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.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

1 Comments

Comments

  • Raymond Hurst wrote on May 18, 2017 09:35 AM :

    Matt Bevin, like Donald Trump, says his private business dealings are no one’s business. WRONG! When you run for public office, you are asking people to trust you, so everything you do is going to be open to public scrutiny. You buy a home at almost half of what it appraises at then you tell the people of Ky. to go jump in the lake, it is none of their business?!?! (He didn’t literally tell us to jump in the lake, but that is what he meant). But then we have to remember that Kentuckians feel there is no one from Ky. smart enough to lead us. We must get someone from another state because we are not smart enough to do the job (maybe they’re right).

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