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Top Lawyer Resigns From Attorney General's Office

Andy Beshear
J. Tyler Franklin
Andy Beshear

A top official in Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office is resigning Thursday to take a job with a Louisville law firm.

Assistant Attorney General Mitchel Denham, who headed up the office’s civil division, will begin work at Thompson, Miller & Simpson as a partner.

"It has been an honor to work for you and for this office over the past eight-plus years," Denham said in a resignation letter dated Dec. 1.

Denham is the son of retiring Maysville Democratic Rep. Mike Denham and also worked for former Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.

In a statement, Beshear said that Denham has been a "tremendous asset" to the office.

"He was instrumental in bringing the necessary historic knowledge to our transition, and served as head of our civil branch the last year with the highest integrity and work ethic while handling several high-profile cases,” Beshear said. “Mitchel's new job is a perfect fit for where he is in life, and while the entire office is sad to see him go, we hope nothing but the best for him."

Denham’s resignation comes at the end of a year of high-profile departures from the attorney general’s office.

Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer resigned in March, days before being indicted on federal bribery charges stemming from his time as secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear. He was later sentenced to 70 months in prison.

Longtime assistant attorney general and open records expert Amye Bensenhaver resignedfrom the office after getting reprimanded for talking to a journalist without permission.

Laine Kaiser, a former top lawyer for the attorney general, resigned in August after being denied a raise. She is suing Beshear for sex discrimination, alleging that male attorneys were given raises while females in the office were denied for the same requests. She also claims she resigned to avoid termination as a result of raising concerns.

David Reed Wilbers, a Medicaid fraud investigator in the office, is on paid leave after being accused of lying to grand juries at least three times in recent years.

Beshear’s communications director Terry Sebastian said there was “no indication” that Denham’s resignation was indicative of problems in the office.

Gov. Matt Bevin has repeatedly attacked Beshear over personnel issues in the office. In September, Bevin sent an unsolicited text message telling Beshear to “get your house in order” and calling his office an “embarrassment to the Commonwealth.”

During an year-in-review news conference on Tuesday, Beshear said his office doesn’t “have any more personnel issues than any cabinet in state government or the governor’s office itself.”

“The only difference is the governor as a matter of policy does not comment on personnel issues in his office or a cabinet, but he tweets about them when they occur in this office and then tries to bully the press into writing about them,” Beshear said. “This is an office where we run a tight ship, we set high expectations and when folks don’t meet them, there are repercussions.”