GOP Kentucky Gov Targets Democratic Predecessor

     (CN) – Kentucky Republican governor said Tuesday he is hiring a private law firm to help investigate the procurement and campaign finance practices of his Democratic predecessor.
     Gov. Matt Bevin said the firm, which he did not name, will assist the state’s Finance Cabinet looking into no-bid contracts and reports that state workers were forced to make political donations by the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear.
     “Let’s be clear: corruption and pay-to-play or pay-to-stay will not be tolerated in this administration,” Bevin said during a news briefing at which he refused to answer any questions.
     Beshear dismissed Bevin’s inquiry as a “pathetic spectacle” in a statement on his Facebook page.
     “At some point, Matt Bevin has to realize there is a time to campaign and a time to govern. Attacking me in an effort to distract the public from his Benefind debacle and his plan to strip away healthcare from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians will not work,” the former governor said.
     ” Today’s accusations, which have absolutely no basis in truth … There was never any attempt to pressure employees to make political contributions, and we followed both the spirit and the letter of procurement laws,” Beshear continued. “Furthermore, I made my tax returns public all eight years I was governor, something Gov. Bevin refuses to do even after promising to do so. Kentuckians deserve better.”
     Bevin and Beshear have been engaging in a war of words for several months. Earlier this month, Beshear’s son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, sued Bevin over mid-year budget cuts that were particularly tough on the state college and university system.
     A hearing on that lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday.
     Despite the legal action, Bevin was unbowed Tuesday as he claimed officials working under Beshear threatened to fire state employees who did not make donations to Democratic political campaigns and causes.
     Beshear’s administration is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, Kentucky’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission fined a deputy secretary under the former governor $5,000 for calling his employees at home and telling them how much they should donate to the governor’s re-election campaign.
     On Tuesday, Tim Longmeyer, a former Personnel Cabinet secretary in the Beshear administration, pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges that included charges he funneled the money into Democratic campaigns.
     Bevin’s claims Longmeyer steered as much as $23,000 to the campaign of the attorney general. But Beshear has said he knew nothing of Longmeyer’s activities and did not benefit from them.
     “Over the last three weeks, I have stood before the public and answered any and every question regarding Mr. Longmeyer,” the attorney general said. “United States Attorney Kerry Harvey has definitively stated to the public and the press that there was no involvement by me or my office. The sworn affidavit in that case also found there was no knowledge by any campaign related to any contributions.”
     He said his campagin is currently awaiting “a routine audit by the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, and will then donate any remaining funds to Common Cause, a government watchdog organization.”
     Beshear contends Bevin’s investigation of his father’s administration is “overstating his authority.”
     “The appropriate agency for investigating the governor’s allegations is the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission, an independent agency, and not a cabinet that answers to the governor,” Beshear said.
     “Spending taxpayer money on an outside contract when such allegations should be sent to the commission is wasteful,” he added.

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