Beshear Finally Donating 'Tainted' Campaign Funds To Watchdog
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will donate more than $14,000 from his 2015 campaign account to compensate for contributions associated with a former top aide who admitted to taking bribes.
Beshear, a Democrat, promised to donate the funds more than two years ago, but said he was waiting for campaign finance officials to complete a routine audit of his account.
During a news conference on Monday, Beshear said the audit is complete and he will be donating the remaining balance of his campaign account–$14,302.79–to Common Cause, an ethics watchdog group.
"We were just able — based on the audit wrapping up — to close our account and we will be sending that check this week to Common Cause to entirely close our account," Beshear said.
According to the Associated Press, Common Cause says it might not be able to accept Beshear’s donation because it doesn’t normally accept money from political campaigns.
Beshear's former deputy attorney general Tim Longmeyer admitted to taking more than $212,000 from a consulting firm in exchange for awarding state contracts to the firm.
The bribes date back to when Longmeyer was the secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under Gov. Steve Beshear, the current attorney general’s father.
Longmeyer is now serving a 70-month sentence in federal prison.
Longmeyer used the bribes to make donations to Democratic political campaigns. He would give cash to intermediaries, including family members, and direct them where to donate it.
Federal investigators said that Beshear did not know about the scheme. It's unclear how much of the tainted money went to Beshear's campaign.
Campaign finance records show that Longmeyer and his family donated $10,000 to Andy Beshear's campaign between 2013 and 2015. Two employees from the consulting firm involved in the kickback scheme donated $3,500 to the campaign. Two other men convicted in the scheme–political consultant Larry O'Bryan and lobbyist Jim Sullivan–and their spouses contributed a total of $8,000.
But the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, which audited Beshear's campaign account, said that just $4,000 of the donations associated with the federal case were illegal.
Beshear addressed the contribution to Common Cause during an end-of-year news conference in Frankfort during which he touted his record filing lawsuits against pain pill manufacturers and distributors, combating human trafficking and suing to block the pension bill passed by the Republican-led legislature.
A much-anticipated Kentucky Supreme Court decision on Beshear’s lawsuit over the pension bill is expected to come this week.
Beshear criticized Republican Gov. Matt Bevin for saying that the state wouldn't be able to afford to send out pension checks if the law were struck down.
"It is fearmongering pure and simple, it has absolutely no basis in fact, it’s simply a governor trying to pressure what’s a coequal branch of government into doing what he wants," Beshear said.
Beshear is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in Kentucky and, if he wins the primary this coming spring, might face Bevin next November in the General Election.
Bevin has said he will run for re-election as governor, though he hasn't officially filed to do so yet.
During Monday’s news conference, Beshear criticized Bevin for the combative comments he has made against opponents.
"Now more than ever it’s critical that we have somebody in that office that will set the type of example that will hopefully get us back to a place where regardless of our political party we can still talk," Beshear said.
This story has been updated.