Attorney General Beshear Still Hasn't Returned Tainted Contributions
Attorney General Andy Beshear still hasn’t returned contributions to his campaign account that came from Tim Longmeyer, a state Democratic Party insider who admitted to bribery charges earlier this year.
On April 19, Beshear publicly announced he would donate the funds to campaign watchdog group Common Cause once a routine audit of his campaign account is complete.
The audit still isn't completed and the funds still haven't been returned.
Longmeyer was secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear, Andy Beshear’s father. Earlier this year, Andy Beshear hired Longmeyer to serve as his chief deputy in the attorney general's office. Longmeyer resigned on March, 23, just two days before he was charged with bribery.
Then, in April, Longmeyer pled guilty to accepting more than $212,000 in bribes from Lexington-based MC Squared Consulting in exchange for funneling state contracts to the company.
Longmeyer’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29. He could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Campaign finance reports show that Longmeyer and his family donated $10,000 to Beshear’s campaign between 2013 and 2015. Two MC Squared employees donated $3,500 to the campaign.
The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance routinely audits every campaign account to check for accounting errors and make sure donors didn’t exceed contribution limits.
Terry Sebastian, communications director for the attorney general's office, said the delay on the audit is what's holding up the process.
"The campaign is still waiting on KREF to conduct its routine audit," said Sebastian. "After it is completed, all remaining funds will be donated to Common Cause."
John Steffen, executive director of KREF, said that audits of all of last year’s statewide campaigns will take more than a year because of staffing issues.
“We’re working on it,” Steffen said. “The bigger the account, the more funds involved, the longer it takes.”
Beshear raised more than $3 million in last year’s race for attorney general. His opponent, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville raised about $300,000.
The race was also a target of outside organizations -- the Republican Attorney Generals Association spent about $2 million in support of Westerfield and its Democratic counterpart threw about $1 million supporting Beshear.
According to a 50-page FBI affidavit obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Longmeyer arranged for the state to pay MC Squared more than $2 million in contract work in exchange for the kickbacks. MC Squared conducted focus groups for Anthem and Humana, which managed the state’s employee health insurance plan over the period.
At least $6,000 of the bribes didn’t end up in Longmeyer’s pocket but in the campaign accounts of Beshear and former Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who ran for governor last year.
Conway and Beshear have not been implicated in the bribery scheme. The government noted in court documents that it had “no reason to believe” candidates knew the money was dirty.
On Wednesday, Louisville political consultant Larry O’Bryan admitted to helping funnel the kickbacks between MC Squared and Longmeyer. O’Bryan will have to pay $642,201 back to the state, the same amount of payments he received from the consulting company. He will be sentenced in January.
R.G. Dunlop of WFPL's Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting contributed to this story.