Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bevin launches probe into Beshear administration

FRANKFORT, KY -  Tuesday, in light of areas of serious concern dealing with potentially illegal and unethical contracting processes during the previous administration, Governor Matt Bevin announced a special investigation.

Governor Bevin has asked the Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, Col. Bill Landrum, using the extensive investigative powers given to him in KRS Chapter 45, to prepare and issue an RFP for a thorough, in-depth investigation and report by an attorney or law firm with experience in investigating activities and contracts.

Once selected, this firm will work closely with Secretary Landrum and his staff, including the Cabinet’s new Inspector General, whose appointment will be announced in the coming days, to make findings and issue a report. 

Under KRS Chapter 45, such investigation will include the ability to subpoena witnesses and records as may be necessary to accomplish the investigative goals. 

“A thorough, independent investigation like this can expose and cast light upon prior unsavory — and perhaps illegal — practices, but can also provide the public a degree of confidence in a fair and transparent governance that was so glaringly absent in the past administration,” said Governor Bevin.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear took some exception to the governor’s choice to hand the investigation over to a firm outside of the state structure.

“As the head of an office that is statutorily charged with investigating allegations of corruption, I agree that issues such as no-bid contracts should be carefully scrutinized, including the two no-bid contracts totaling $4 million awarded by the Bevin administration in its first three months,” said Beshear. “The appropriate agency, however, 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.”
The AG accused Bevin of overstepping the governor’s office’s power in the matter.

“The governor is once again overstating his authority under state law (KRS chapter 45),” Beshear added. “Spending taxpayer money on an outside contract when such allegations should be sent to the commission is wasteful.”

Bevin referred to former Secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet Timothy Longmeyer, who is facing a federal criminal charge of corruption. The case is focused on a system Longmeyer established that solicited funds from state employees for Democrat candidates and campaigns. He is accused on bribery, money laundering, and taking more than $200,000 in kickback from a consulting firm seeking to work with the state employee insurance system.

Bevin alleged that many of the employees were coerced to contribute, and that some of the money made its way to the campaign of Andy Beshear.

State Representative James “Jim” Gooch, Jr. (12th) said he has no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing, but admitted that appearance is important.

“We take ethics training all the time,” he said. “The one they always tell us is, ‘If you wouldn’t want your mother reading about it in the newspaper, you probably shouldn’t do it.’”

Doing business with the state can be a lucrative enterprise for any company, so keeping the process above aboard tends to become a muddled task.

“Transparency is a good thing,” Gooch said. “Who knows if there was anything there? I do think people want to know.”

Gooch did provide a word of caution for the new governor.

“I think with the investigation, we’ll have a better of idea (of what happened),” he said. “[Bevin] just needs to make sure it’s not political.”

By Jessica Ditto & Amanda Stamper,
Additional reporting for this article by Morgan McKinley, J-E Reporter

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