Former Governor Ratchets Up Rhetoric Against Bevin
Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear leveled a barrage of counter-accusations at Kentucky’s sitting governor during a nearly hour-long press conference Wednesday morning.
Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Bevin announced a far-reaching corruption investigation into the previous administration’s dealings, pointing to evidence that Beshear presided over a pay-to-play culture where state workers were pressured by high-ranking officials to fork over donations to Democratic campaigns.
Wednesday the former chief executive returned fire, turning the allegations back on Bevin.
"He has bullied the legislature. He has bullied our universities. He has bullied you in the media. And he has bullied organizations that rely on state funding. But he's not going to get away with bullying me," Beshear said.
Defending his record in office, the former governor suggested that it’s Bevin who has used threats and intimidation to extract statements from state employees tarring the past administration and solicit donations to help retire his campaign debts. On that charge, Beshear was pressed for evidence.
"I have been told by sources that have been approached that that is what they've been told. Obviously if I put their names out here, they'd be gone in a mini-second," the former governor replied.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bevin is overseas on an economic development trip, but his office released a statement saying, “After a top level appointment of both him and his son pleaded guilty to federal bribery last week, former Governor Beshear is merely trying to protect what is left of his legacy." It went on to call the accusations "wild" and "baseless," adding that Bevin has said all he intends to say while the probe is underway.
Timothy Longmeyer, a former personnel secretary under Beshear briefly employed under current Attorney General Andy Beshear, is on trial for accepting $200,000 in kickbacks. During his comments Wednesday, the former governor said, "Obviously if we had had any inkling of [Longmeyer's] criminal actions, he would have been fired on the spot."
The governors are also at odds over who should do the investigating.
Bevin has tapped the finance secretary and a private law firm to look into the former administration’s actions while Beshear says the independent Executive Branch Ethics Commission should handle the matter. Members of that panel were appointed by the former governor, but Beshear maintains they have proven to be objective and impartial.
Beshear told reporters he’s not contemplating any legal action, but he’s not going to serve as Bevin’s “punching bag” for the next four years.