Beshear says cabinet secretary will keep her job after improper fundraising e-mail "mistake"

10/17/2011 04:40 PM

LEXINGTON — The state finance cabinet secretary will keep her job after sending a campaign message on her state email account — a violation of state ethics rules.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear told Pure Politics on Sunday he is ready to close the books on a “mistake” made by Lori Flanery, the state finance cabinet secretary.

Last week, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Flanery used a state-owned iPad and her Kentucky government email account to send an invitation to 175 people about an event she was hosting for Beshear’s re-election campaign.

Flanery has called the incident an accident, saying she didn’t realize her iPad had switched over to her state e-mail account when sending the invitations, instead of a personal e-mail account, according to the Herald-Leader’s article.

Flanery notified the governor and canceled the event after realizing her mistake, and she apologized to invitees in a follow-up e-mail.

But Republicans raised concerns about whether the Beshear administration has been skirting or breaking campaign finance laws. Previously, state employees at the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Transportation Cabinet alleged some officials had been improperly urging employees to give to the campaign.

Last week, Republican Party of Kentucky chairman criticized Beshear for not taking action on Flanery, citing a move former Democratic Gov. Paul Patton made with a cabinet secretary when a similar incident occurred in 2002.

“In 2002, Gov. Paul Patton took action to remove Ron McCloud from his position after he did much the same thing as Flanery, which was to use state equipment for political purposes,” Robertson said in a statement. “But it seems like Gov. Beshear can’t even live up to Paul Patton’s ethical standards, which is saying something.

But in an interview with Pure Politics on Sunday, Beshear said the key difference was that Flanery realized the error, apologized and attempted to correct her mistake.

Patton, in April 2002, asked McCloud to step down as Public Protection Cabinet secretary after learning that McCloud wrote numerous political letters on a state computer in support of a Democratic state Senator’s re-election campaign.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston


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