Political war escalates as Ex-Gov. Beshear accuses Gov. Bevin of - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Political war escalates as Ex-Gov. Beshear accuses Gov. Bevin of abusing his power

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- There was a major escalation, Wednesday, in the political war between the former governor of Kentucky and the current one.

Ex-Governor Steve Beshear not only denied Governor Matt Bevin's charges of corruption in the Beshear administration, but hurled accusations of his own, even hinting of an FBI investigation.

"In his short time as governor, Matt Bevin has repeatedly demonstrated how petty and vindictive he can be," Beshear told reporters at a Frankfort news conference.

Beshear angrily responded to Gov. Matt Bevin launching an investigation into allegations of corruption in the Beshear administration, including pressuring state employees to give political donations.

"A thorough, independent investigation like this can expose and cast light upon prior unsavory and perhaps illegal practices," said Bevin last week.

Beshear denies any wrongdoing, and accuses Bevin of his own corrupt practices, including coercing state workers to make donations to retire Bevin's campaign debt, and threatening to cancel road projects in districts of Democratic lawmakers who would not agree to switch parties.

"When they refused, he said he'll destroy them. And folks, I understand that the FBI may be looking into that kind of conduct," said Beshear.

Beshear offered no proof.

The Louisville FBI office says, by policy, it cannot confirm or deny the existence or non-existence of an investigation.

"This guy's a bully. And when you agree with him, everything is just fine. But when you disagree with him, he comes after you with a vengeance," said Beshear.

Gov. Bevin is in Europe on an economic development mission.

In a statement his Communications Director, Jessica Ditto, called Beshear's accusations "wild and baseless."

The statement went on to say, "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."

That's a reference to former Beshear Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer, who also served briefly as a deputy for Beshear’s son, Attorney General Andy Beshear.

The former governor calls Longmeyer's actions a betrayal.

"I hope he is cooperating. Because anybody involved in this scheme needs to be brought to justice, and I think they will be," said Beshear.

Though Beshear says he wants the feud to end, he also promised to fire back any time he believes Gov. Bevin comes after him.

Here is the full statement from Gov. Bevin's spokesperson Jessica Ditto:

"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. Every wild, baseless accusation he has attempted to levy is not corroborated by any facts whatsoever.

"Governor Bevin is focused on the job the people of Kentucky elected him to do, which is to restore fiscal responsibility and create economic opportunity. He will let the investigation take its course and has said all he intends to say about this matter."

Here is a statement issued by Tres Watson, spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky:

"Today's press conference by State Government pensioner Steve Beshear shows the depths to which he will sink to keep the truth about his administration from Kentuckians. I too would be upset if nearly a half century of cronyism, corruption and abuse of the public trust by my Frankfort Democratic political machine was about to be laid bare for all to see. 

"On Steve and Andy Beshear's call for the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to handle Governor Bevin's accusation:

"Having one high ranking official fined by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission for soliciting donations from state employees clearly did nothing to discourage others in the Beshear administration. Governor Bevin should be applauded for taking these sorts of monumental ethical lapses seriously and working to restore the people's faith in Government. This is exactly the sort of bold, independent action the people gave him a mandate to do last fall."

Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman Daniel Lowry issued this statement:

"Gov. Beshear's statements set the record straight. He was a governor who cared about Kentuckians; our healthcare, education and economic well-being, and who treated people fairly and honestly. Gov. Bevin, however, looks a lot more like a vindictive bully who is busy playing political games instead of governing properly."

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