Despite contentious start to first term, AG Beshear says there's nothing personal in spats with Gov. Bevin

06/01/2016 05:32 PM

FRANKFORT — For Attorney General Andy Beshear, the public spats between him and Gov. Matt Bevin during his first six months in office are nothing personal.

That’s what Beshear told reporters following a Capitol news conference on Wednesday, when he randomly selected Laurel, Shelby, Breathitt, Todd, Anderson and Garrard counties for post-primary-election audits.

He says that while there have been times when he’s disagreed with the governor and felt compelled to defend the state Constitution, he’s open to working with Bevin on any number of topics on which they find common ground.

“I think there have been some agreements,” Beshear said. “Certainly working with the first lady, Mrs. Bevin, on rolling out a series of child abuse prevention programs where we’re going to train more people this year, already over 350, to identify and step in to prevent abuse than we have probably in the last 10 years. We did a PSA together to continue to put out that word, and on all these issues, whether it’s the KLEPF (Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund) fund or whether it’s ending this rape kit backlog, I’m absolutely willing to work with this governor.

“Regardless of the comments that we hear coming from the other side of the hall, this is not personal to me,” he said.

Bevin’s office did not respond to a request for comment, and there’s a laundry list of issues that have emerged between the first-year Republican governor, who took office in December, and the first-year Democratic attorney general, who took office in January.

Beshear has sued Bevin over his higher education cuts in the current fiscal year, a matter that the attorney general is appealing to the Kentucky Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that the governor acted within his authority, and Bevin has asked Beshear’s office to accept a voluntary current-year budget cut similar to other constitutional offices.

Bevin and Beshear’s father — former Gov. Steve Beshear, Bevin’s predecessor in the executive branch — have traded accusations of corruption within the other’s administration.

Most recently, Bevin accused Andy Beshear of ‘dropping the ball’ on Tuesday by not joining a lawsuit against the federal government for its directive on transgender bathroom policies in public schools.

Beshear reiterated on Wednesday that Bevin’s comments on that subject were untrue.

When asked whether he believed the federal government overstepped its authority on the issue, Beshear said he was in the process of determining that when Bevin decided on Friday to join the lawsuit, filed days before in U.S. District Court in Texas.

“I’m a lawyer and I believe that in this office you have to carefully analyze any and all claims that are made, especially from an outside lawsuit, to determine their validity, and these claims run from the history of Title IX and what it was or was not supposed to apply to to different theories about the 10th Amendment,” Beshear said.

“We were working through those. Now that the governor’s filing, I’m not going to spend our resources on duplicating the same thing. The commonwealth is going to be represented. I’m going to take the folks that were doing that analysis and put them back on our core mission of preventing and prosecuting child abuse, better protecting our seniors against scams and abuse, of seeking justice for victims of rape and for finding workable solutions to that drug epidemic.”

The routine post-election audits will see investigators in Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations interview local officials, election officials and randomly selected absentee voters as well as examine voter assistance forms, absentee ballot applications and other documents in their inquiries, among other activities, according to Beshear.

The investigators’ findings will be presented to local grand juries, he said.

“It’s an opportunity to actually touch base, to find out that things were done properly,” John Moberly, commissioner of the department, said in reference to voter contacts. “We’ll ask some questions about when they did it, how they were assisted, how the process went for them, and ask questions just to determine if there was anything illegal that could have been done.”

Moberly said recent post-election audits have not sparked criminal investigations.

Beshear also announced that his office received 119 election-related complaints during this year’s primary elections, with all but five resolved.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.