Facing deluge of questions on $24M settlement reached by his predecessor and former law firm, Beshear exits hearing after reiterating his noninvolvement

10/12/2017 06:23 PM

FRANKFORT – After more than an hour of questions on a $24 million settlement with drug maker Purdue Pharma that he repeatedly insisted he had no role in litigating or negotiating, Attorney General Andy Beshear abruptly left a Program Review and Investigations Committee meeting on Thursday and accused the co-chairman of the panel of political showmanship.

State Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, led most of the questioning, delving into topics such as the appropriateness of settling for $24 million when past attorneys general had said the case could yield $1 billion to how his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, is paid by Stites and Harbison, which represented the drug company and employed the younger Beshear before he took office.

Beshear, who had presented information on his office’s efforts to take other drug manufacturers and distributors to court through a contingency fee contract with four law firms, said time and again that he had no role in litigating the case or negotiating the settlement with Stites and Harbison and that he did not handle any aspect of the matter, which was settled for $24 million in former Attorney General Jack Conway’s final days in office in December 2015, when he took over as the state’s top elected attorney.

“I think I’ve been more than patient in answering every question I can,” he said after Carroll asked about political donors to his campaign for attorney general connected to the case. “We’ve moved into issues from a previous campaign. My only clients are the people of Kentucky.”

“We will see you again next month General Beshear,” Carroll said as Beshear stood to leave.

“OK,” the first-term attorney general said.

Thursday wasn’t the first time Republicans have questioned the $24 million settlement with Purdue Pharma, but Carroll also took issue with terms of the settlement that he said seemed to take Stites and Harbison off the hook of a potential malpractice lawsuit as well as a contract awarded to Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd and Kinney, where Conway now works, after Beshear took office.

That contingency fee contract for legal work on the Purdue Pharma case had expired during Conway’s term in June 2015, and Beshear said he had no idea why it was allowed to lapse since he was not attorney general at the time.

His office – Beshear said he refrained from all matters related to Purdue Pharma since becoming attorney general — issued the contract again so that the firm could be paid the $3.7 million in contingency fees for its help in the case, he said.

“I would say if the point here is the commonwealth could somehow get out of paying lawyers who took a contingency fee contract and worked the case, that’s a tough argument to make in front of a court,” Beshear said.

Holly McCoy-Johnson, who leads administrative services in Beshear’s office, also noted that the contract, which was retroactive, passed muster with the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the General Assembly’s Government Contract Review Committee.

“This contract expiring did not occur under General Beshear’s administration,” she said. “However, all the pieces to go into place to ensure that a contract was in place so that proper payment could be made was something that we became aware of after we came into office and made sure that that occurred so that the work that was done previously could be taken care of and handled properly and appropriately.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Beshear had some harsh words for Carroll and his line of questioning.

“We heard more conspiracy theories today than I think were included in the movie ‘JFK,’ and to throw those around when we’re dealing with a drug epidemic, when four Kentuckians dies every single day is grossly irresponsible,” he said.

But Carroll countered that he did not question the Purdue Pharma settlement for political theatrics.

He said he received help from Gov. Matt Bevin’s office, which has frequently sparred with Beshear in the press and in courtrooms, and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in compiling information ahead of Thursday’s hearing, adding that the committee could force additional Beshear testimony with a subpoena.

“You’ve got an agreement that protects the new attorney general’s firm and it’s protecting the firm that the former governor’s about to go back to for employment, so tell me that doesn’t raise suspicion,” Carroll told reporters. “Tell me that Jack Conway going to work for Dolt Thompson doesn’t raise suspicions. Tell me that Attorney General Beshear getting donations for his campaign from the opposing counsel in this case, tell me that there aren’t suspicions there.

“So you look at all these things as a complete package and you can’t help but think that this scream of corruption, and I think the people of our state are tired of that type of politics.”

Asked why he didn’t ask Conway to appear before the Program Review and Investigations Committee and answer questions on the settlement his office reached with Purdue Pharma, Carroll said Thursday was “the beginning of this and we needed to see how this was going to go and then make a decision from there.”

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.

5 Comments

Comments

  • Geoff Young for Congress wrote on October 13, 2017 08:41 AM :

    I have alleged that Andy Beshear is an election-rigging, election-stealing CROOK. My federal lawsuit, which I filed on 8/19/16, was recently thrown out of court before trial & before discovery, but I’m going to appeal that decision to the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

    I have also been trying to tell the Repubs, including Gov. Bevin’s General Counsel, Steve Pitt, all about it for the last 22 months. They seem totally uninterested in my proposal that Andy Beshear & Alison Lundergan Grimes be impeached for alleged election fraud. I offered to testify against those 2 allegedly corrupt Democrats plus Jack Conway, but no Repub has ever expressed the slightest interest. No U.S. Attorney has ever expressed the slightest interest either.

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on October 13, 2017 09:27 AM :

    I would like to give a lot of credit to Sen. Danny Carroll and Rep. Stan Lee , for doing the Due Diligence for our citizens here in this matter.

    Sen. Danny Carroll has a ton talent and has the integrity to make a big impact on this state. I look for big things to come from him in Frankfort.

    I am not a lawyer but have friends who are. From New York , Boston , Nashville ,to Washington. Everyone of them has been following this case from the time Greg Stumbo filed it…

    The day after Bevin beat Conway , they said watch if this case is settled before General Conway leaves AG office. If so , then there is a fire sell happening and the state is on the wrong end of the sell.. Guess what ? They had seen this act play out before….

    Who is enabling this in the General Assembly, in the AG’s office , KY Bar Association, and in the KY Supreme Courts ?

    We should be looking at something in between the Fen-Phen and the Eric Conn SSI federal cases possibly happening here…

    If AG Beshear wants to help the state than he needs to get in here and do it. He can’t ride 2 horses with one ass.. And he knows there’s a lot going on and there is no support network like years before that allowed this to get so far out of control. KY has been ran like the wild wild west… It’s over and the big boy club members knows it… RL

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on October 13, 2017 10:14 AM :

    To Nick Storm :

    Nick , I just got a call from a former employee in the AG office. She said that everything in the last 20years going through the Judicial Committees’ in Frankfort has had to pass by with Sen. Julian Carroll and Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr knowledge if not their support.

    Now , I think Sen. Julian Carroll has hurt his chances of ever being elected again. Even by Frankfort standards. But , Alice Kerr is running again. If she isn’t looking out for us , we might need to find someone we isn’t apart of the KY Legal Club and get new eyes in to take a look at what has passed inspection from those insiders. Hear no. See no. Speak no. Tell no crowd. Might be time to look for a primary challenger for Ms. Forgy… RL

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on October 13, 2017 11:17 AM :

    I don’t know who is going to b the next U.S. Attorney for us here in Lexington, leading the EKY Circuit. But I do know they don’t need any fishing experience. Just need to know how the filet the big fish for processing. The Whales are piling up already. Starting to stink too..

    I would like to send this classic Rod Stewart song out to those members of the General Assembly that are in the 10year plus crowd. Just so you all know how I feel of your time spent. Enjoy Maggie May.. RL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVApuLlv-rU

  • Cat Balz wrote on October 14, 2017 04:10 PM :

    Under the sanctimony the Beshear clan is kind of stinky. So, remind us, where is Steve Beshear’s former Personnel Director and Andy’s first top Deputy sitting right now?

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