LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Officials in the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear routinely broke the law by soliciting political contributions from state employees, according to a report commissioned by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.

The report by the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister is based on interviews with 16 former Beshear administration officials who served in politically appointed jobs – none of whom are named in the report.

In a written statement, Beshear called the report “a joke” and a waste of taxpayer money.

The state Finance and Administration Cabinet released the report Wednesday after a request under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

All 16 officials the firm interviewed said they were hit up for contributions, mainly to support the campaigns of Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor and Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of Steve Besehar, as well as the Kentucky Democratic Party, according to the report.

“While our investigation provides only a sampling of the improper campaign fundraising practices that appear to have been pervasive during former Governor 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 report says.

The Bevin administration hired the Taft firm in August under a two-year contract worth up to $500,000 to investigate corruption in the Beshear administration.

Taft has billed about $165,000 thus far, said Pamela Trautner, spokeswoman for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet. Trautner said she could not say how much the report itself cost taxpayers.

Asked what else Taft has done – or will do – for the state besides the 18-page report, Trautner said in an email: “They may be called upon to help the inspector general with other investigations. We cannot provide information on any current and/or future investigations until such work has been completed.”

Steve Beshear called the report a “political hatchet job” and said Bevin officials “ought to be charged with theft of public money.”

“(A)fter almost a year – with access to 33,000 state workers, mind you – they came up with 16 secret and unnamed employees making vague allegations against six other employees, two of whom are dead and unable to defend themselves,” Beshear said. 

Daniel Lowry, a spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, said the 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, who was political appointee in the Beshear administration's Labor Cabinet, said he was never pressured into contributing to political campaigns and that he knows of no other non-merit employees who were.  

The report has been forwarded to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, an independent agency, for its consideration.

Read the report: