Attorney General Andy Beshear evaluating whether 'mismanagement' of U of L Foundation warrants criminal charges

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  The Republican Party of Kentucky on Friday called on Attorney General Andy Beshear to recuse himself from an investigation into the University of Louisville Foundation because Beshear’s former law firm advised the foundation for many years.

In the wake of a forensic report that documents millions of dollars in over-spending at the foundation, the criminal division of Beshear’s office sent the university a June 30 letter demanding materials, such as the reformatted hard drive used by former U of L President James Ramsey.

Beshear’s office wouldn’t say whether it is conducting a criminal investigation, however.

In a statement, the Republican Party called on Beshear to appoint a special investigator because of what the party sees as conflicts of interest. Beshear, a Democrat, dismissed it as a politically motivated “attack” on his ability to do his job.

Before his election in 2015, Beshear worked at the law firm Stites & Harbison, which was the foundation’s main legal contractor for at least a decade until earlier this year.

A Stites attorney, David Saffer, served as general counsel to the foundation board.

The state GOP also cited the fact that Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, appointed the U of L board of trustees members who were in place during the 2014-2016 activities detailed in the June 8 forensic investigation, and that those former board members were political contributors to both men.  

“Whether or not there is an actual conflict, the Attorney General must recognize there is an obvious appearance of impropriety,” said state GOP spokesman Tres Watson, adding that a special investigator is “the only way to give the public assurance that it will be a fair and thorough inquiry.”

Beshear told reporters June 12 that he didn’t perform work for the foundation and that he saw no reason to recuse himself.

“The office has not seen anything yet that would merit recusal but is always willing to re-evaluate if that changes,” Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said in a statement Friday. “The general believes in doing his job.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for WDRB.com about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and cotts@wdrb.com.