Beshear raises possibility of investigation into real estate transaction between Bevin and KRS board member

05/17/2017 06:10 PM

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he may investigate a recent real estate transaction between Gov. Matt Bevin and a member of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board.

Beshear, speaking to WHAS radio Tuesday morning, said he’s concerned that it appears Neil Ramsey, a member of the KRS board, sold a Jefferson County home to Bevin for “what appears to be half off.”

He’s referencing a report by The Courier Journal that a Ramsey-owned company sold a home on 10 acres of a 19-acre plot, valued at $3 million total by the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator, for $1.6 million to a newly formed company called Anchorage Place LLC.

Ramsey told WAVE-TV that he and Bevin settled on a price and let their attorneys work out closing details, and the home sold March 9.

“That’s really concerning because my understanding is that the seller has significant state business, that he has state contracts that he makes money off of or that he has businesses that need certifications from the state, so I have real, serious concerns about what’s going on in the Bevin administration and whether we’re seeing one of the worst cases of unjust enrichment or personal enrichment by a governor that I can imagine,” Beshear said in the radio interview.

Bevin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The governor has defended the transaction, and Ramsey has said he sold the home at a fair price.

Beshear told WHAS that he is seeking clarification from the Executive Branch Ethics Commission on whether his office can move forward with an investigation.

The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained a copy of a letter Beshear’s chief deputy, J. Michael Brown, sent to the ethics commission Wednesday. The letter primarily deals with a pair of ethics opinions that require attorneys general to recuse themselves in investigations into political opponents.

Beshear, a Democrat, has not announced whether he will run for re-election as attorney general or mount a gubernatorial bid, as some — including Bevin, a Republican — have suggested.

“The current Governor has indicated that he is a likely candidate for re-election in 2019,” Brown said. “And, while General Beshear has made no public statements of his intent, the current Governor has indicated that he believes General Beshear will run against him and certainly views him as a political rival. Indeed, the Governor recently stated, ‘Andy Beshear clearly wants to be governor.’

“Under these circumstances, and in light of the language of Advisory Opinions 03-05 and 06-16, the Office of the Attorney General has not initiated any investigation into the Governor’s real estate transaction as of the date of this letter.”

The newspaper also reports that Ramsey listed at least partial ownership in eBridge, a Louisville company that has helped state government procure supplies in a contract awarded by former Gov. Steve Beshear. Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper told the Herald-Leader that the governor was unaware of eBridge or the contract until asked about it last week.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson questioned the timing of Beshear’s announcement, noting the recent settlement between the ethics commission and a former Personnel Cabinet aide who admitted to soliciting campaign dollars on state time for Gov. Beshear’s 2011 re-election, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway’s 2015 campaign and others.

“I find it interesting that AG Beshear’s announcement comes two days after the first ethics fines were handed down in the ‘Pay-To-Stay’ investigation of his father’s administration; an investigation Beshear called ‘grossly political and partisan,’” Watson said in a statement. “He needs to stop working for his father and his party and start working for the people of Kentucky.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Ramsey as chairman of the KRS board.


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