Judge denies Gov. Bevin's request to remove Attorney General Beshear from pension challenge
Bevin's attorneys had argued that Beshear couldn't provide legal advice to legislators on the pension bill, then turn around and file a lawsuit challenging the bill afterward.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Franklin Circuit Judge has denied a request by attorneys for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin to disqualify Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. Bevin filed the motion to keep Beshear from taking part in a lawsuit challenging the legality of a pension bill passed by the General Assembly.
The decision came during a hearing in Frankfort Wednesday morning.
Steve Pitt, attorney for Bevin, argued that Beshear couldn't provide legal advice to legislators on the pension bill, then turn around and file a lawsuit challenging the bill afterward.
"He made the decision to advise them legally as to what the pension bill should and should not contain. Once he did that, our position is, he crossed the Rubicon," Pitt told the judge.
But Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd called that set of circumstances an "unusual situation," because at the time Beshear provided the advice, he was not engaging in private practice, but was instead acting as part of his public office.
Pitt countered that the rules apply to public officials, and that there are no exceptions. He said that the facts showed that "legal advice was unquestionably given."
Assistant Attorney General LaTasha Buckner said Bevin filed an identical motion in a previous case and lost. She called Beshear "the people's lawyer," and said his primary obligation is to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
In the end, Shepherd denied Bevin's motion, ruling that the attorney general acted ethically.
Pitt said he strongly disagrees with Shepherd's decision.
"What he has held is, in effect, that the attorney general is above the ethics laws that the Supreme Court has placed on all lawyers in this commonwealth," said Pitt.
Beshear himself did not attend the hearing, but later issued the following statement:
“Today’s ruling recognizes that, as the attorney general, I’m the people’s lawyer, and it is my duty to fight on behalf of teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers and other public servants. I will continue to protect the rights of our public servants and to enforce the Constitution’s requirement that our government is transparent and never turns a sewage bill into a pension bill ever again.”
Now both sides get down to the substance of the case. The next hearing set for early June. The pension case will ultimately be decided by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
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