Bevin Report: Beshear Officials Pressured Workers For Political Contributions
Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has released a report alleging “endemic” coercion of state employees to make campaign contributions under former Gov. Steve Beshear.
The investigation is based on interviews with 16 political appointees — who remained anonymous — claiming that officials pressured them into make contributions to Democratic political candidates, primarily to the campaigns of gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway and Attorney General Andy Beshear.
The probe, conducted by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, construes that the practice was widespread across state government.
“While our investigation provides only a sampling of the improper campaign fundraising practices that appear to have been pervasive during former Gov. Beshear’s administration, we believe that there are likely numerous additional employees stationed in various offices, departments, and divisions who also received or were witness to improper solicitations for campaign contributions,” the investigation states.
Candidates and political parties can’t specifically target state employees to make campaign donations under state law.
The report alleges that supervisors not only solicited donations from state employees but made “veiled threats of job termination” if they didn’t make donations.
The 16 state employees interviewed for the report declined to be named out of a desire to not implicate former colleagues, fear of retaliation and reluctance to discuss how contributions would impact personal finances, according to the report.
The Bevin administration awarded a $500,000 contract for the firm to conduct the investigation.
Beshear issued a statement after the report was released, calling it a “political hatchet job.”
Bevin has been locked in an ongoing feud with former Gov. Beshear and his son, the attorney general, since taking office.
The former governor has been an outspoken critic against Bevin’s efforts to scale back or repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky.
And the younger Beshear has challenged Bevin’s authority to cut already-enacted higher education budgets and overhaul the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.
The report details previously published Beshear-era scandals dealing with former Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer — who pleaded guilty to bribery charges last year and was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison — and former deputy secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, who was fined $5,000 for pressuring workers to make political donations.
A KyCIR investigation from last year found that non-merit employees under Longmeyer routinely donated to Democrats.
Daniel Lowry, spokesman from the Kentucky Democratic Party, said the governor was wasting money on the investigation.
“This report is politics as usual for Gov. Bevin, wasting half a million dollars of taxpayer dollars on playing politics for no reason other than to try to tarnish the legacy of the previous administration,” Lowry said.
“I was a non-merit employee before and during the 2015 election period, and nobody in the Beshear administration ever threatened me or any other non-merits to my knowledge," added Lowry, former communications director of the Labor Cabinet.
Read the full report here.