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Democrats hit GOP attorney general with ethics complaint

Daniel Cameron
Susan Walsh/AP
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

One day after launching his campaign for Kentucky governor, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron was hit with a formal complaint Thursday alleging he violated ethics laws by investigating the Democratic governor he now wants to unseat. More from WUKY's Karyn Czar

The complaint filed by the Kentucky Democratic Party requests an investigation by the state Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The complaint cites past commission opinions barring an attorney general from investigating a governor and then challenging that governor in an election.

State Democratic Chair Colmon Elridge said the investigation targeting Beshear’s administration represents a “clear conflict of interest” between Cameron’s public duties and his political interests. The Democratic leader said the investigations into the Beshear administration were “baseless.”

Later, Gov. Andy Beshear said the newest request for information from the attorney general’s office arrived Wednesday night, after Cameron announced his intention to run for governor in 2023. Beshear, a former attorney general, called it an “intentional and willful” violation by Cameron.

“For more than 20 years, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission has been crystal clear -- if you are the sitting attorney general, you cannot investigate the sitting governor and then run against him,” Beshear told reporters at his weekly news conference.

The governor, who is seeking reelection next year, said it’s a rule that “everybody else has followed and this attorney general has broken.”

Responding to the ethics complaint, Cameron campaign strategist Brandon Moody said: “Over a year out and Beshear is already acting this desperate?”

The back-and-forth foreshadows the political slugfest to be waged in the hotly contested governor’s race. Nearly 2 1/2 years into his term, Beshear has gotten strong job approval ratings from Kentuckians, but he faces a tough reelection campaign in the Republican-trending state.

Cameron is among several Republicans already declared for the governor’s contest, with more GOP candidates likely to enter the race.