Gov. Bevin chaps media coverage of home sale after ethics complaint filed

05/27/2017 12:34 PM

FRANKFORT – The chairman of Common Cause Kentucky has filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission questioning the sale of a home where Gov. Matt Bevin and his family now live.

The Courier Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader reported Friday that Richard Beliles, chairman of the government watchdog group, submitted the complaint as a private citizen rather than a representative of Common Cause Kentucky, and accused Bevin of using his public office for personal benefit after a donor, Neil Ramsey, sold the home to a limited liability company for about $1 million less than its appraised value.

Ramsey, who serves on the Kentucky Retirement Systems’ board of directors and has invested in a company linked to Bevin, has said he sold the home for a fair price, and after an unrelated news conference at the Capitol Friday, Bevin criticized media attention surrounding his Jefferson County home.

“Obviously I live there,” the governor said. “That’s why the state security is there. It’s why I drive in and out of there each night. It’s why my children live there, play there and sleep there. Of course I live there.”

Bevin pushed back against allegations of impropriety in the deal, noting that Ramsey wasn’t the only person who invested in Neuronetrix Solutions, of which Bevin is a minority owner, and that Democrats like Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer have also benefitted from tax credits in the Kentucky Angel Investment Act program.

The governor defended Ramsey and said his reputation is being tarnished by press coverage of the home sale.

“He got rewarded with a seat on the Kentucky Retirement Systems board? Really?” Bevin said. “You think that’s a lottery pick? Does any of you want to sit on the worst-funded pension system in the state that has been ignored for year after year after year after year?”

He also suggested that he overpaid for the 10-acre property.

“It was sold at a price that includes a fraction of the land, none of the road frontage, tremendous restrictions in easements that allow movement through that property to the back of the property as well as blocking off the front of that property from the road,” Bevin said. “This is a hundred-and-fifty-something-year-old house. It is arguably not even worth what was paid for it let alone what it’s being assessed at.”

Bevin said he “can’t wait to see” the ethics complaint, calling it a political move. Attorney General Andy Beshear, whose office has asked for an ethics advisory opinion on opening an investigation into the real state transaction, has said he will donate to Common Cause Kentucky and illicit campaign contributions linked to former top aide Tim Longmeyer’s kickback scheme that landed him in federal prison for 70 months after an audit of his campaign account is complete.

“No politics there,” Bevin said sarcastically of the ethics complaint. “None at all.”

Beliles told The Courier Journal and Herald-Leader that he wants the governor and others involved in the deal to further explain the transaction.

“I’m hoping that none of this is true,” Beliles told the Herald-Leader. “I hope this is all completely innocent. I’m hoping to make him answer. I’d love for him to do that and thoroughly, and if he does, I’ll withdraw my complaint.”


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