Gov. Matt Bevin requests investigation of former Gov. Steve Beshear's administration
04/19/2016 02:24 PM
FRANKFORT – Gov. Matt Bevin has accused the previous administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear of numerous improprieties that he says has been uncovered by his administration.
Bevin, who took no questions at a press conference on Tuesday, said that his staff had uncovered evidence that the prior administration had failed to meet the high standards that the law and the people of Kentucky demand from state government officials. Bevin said beshear’s administration coerced state employees to contribute to the campaign of Attorney General Andy Beshear, awarding of contracts to companies that were associated with the husband of former Gov. Beshear’s Secretary of the Cabinet, and two potential irregularities within the Workers’ Compensation branch of the state Personnel Cabinet.
Bevin said that public records show that state employees contributed $140,000 to the Andy Beshear’s campaign in 2014 and 2015, and some, not willingly.
“Employees have stepped forward on numerous occasions and explained how they were essentially coerced and that they complied out of fear of loss of their jobs or other retribution,” Bevin said. “This sort of thing was not only wrong – if true, it was illegal.”
Bevin had a message to all state workers saying, “all I ask is that you do your best for Kentucky and take pride in your work. Your job does not require a political contribution.”
Bevin also pointed out that a last-minute $3 million no-bid contract was awarded to SAS Institute for fraud detection services. The company had retained the services of the husband of Gov. Steve Beshear’s Secretary of the Cabinet as a consultant and employed a former Governor’s Office official as a lobbyist.
“There is clear evidence that the initial SAS contract was improperly expanded to cover additional state agencies without a competitive bid,” Bevin said. “No bid contracts should be used only when absolutely necessary and warrant close scrutiny.”
Bevin also questioned the issuance of a contract for an upgrade of the IT system for Medicaid to a company that had partnered with a firm owned by the husband of Beshear’s Secretary of the Cabinet.
“There are serious questions about the propriety of this procurement process,” Bevin said. “First the bidder that complained about its treatment and was about to lose the initial bid. Second, management of the second bid was taken away from the career merit-system procurement officer who handled the first solicitation and put into the hands of a non-merit, political appointee – the Executive Director of Purchasing in the Finance Cabinet – the same person responsible for the no-bid SAS contracts mentioned earlier.”
Bevin pointed out that after uncovering the questionable decisions and relationships, his administration cancelled the second bid and is investigating the potential improprieties of the previous bids and preparing a new bid that will be fair to all potential respondents.
Finally, Bevin expressed concerns about two major potential irregularities within the Worker’s Compensation branch of the state Personnel Cabinet.
One involved the claims administrative process for volunteer firefighters, and the second irregularity involves workers’ comp claims against the state.
“The second irregularity involves certain directives apparently requesting third party administrators hired to administer workers’ comp claims against the state to assign the legal handling of all claims to certain specified, hand-picked attorneys rather than proceeding in a fair bidding process,” Bevin said. “This is yet another example of abuse of the state procurement system.”
Bevin has asked the Secretary of the Finance Cabinet, Co. Bill Landrum, to investigate any and all improprieties in the coming days and to issue a report.
“I understand that the FBI might be looking into matters related to these issues, but the FBI in investigating potential violations of federal law,” Bevin said. “The people of Kentucky also deserve to know whether any Kentucky laws were violated.”
Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, defended his record and took the offensive against Bevin in a statement.
“As the head of an office that is statutorily charged with investigating allegations of corruption, I agree that issues such as no-bid contracts should be carefully scrutinized, including the two no-bid contracts totaling $4 million awarded by the Bevin administration in its first three months,” he said.
“The appropriate agency, however, for investigating the governor’s allegations is the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission, an independent agency, and not a cabinet that answers to the governor,” Beshear continued. “The governor is once again overstating his authority under state law (KRS chapter 45). Spending taxpayer money on an outside contract when such allegations should be sent to the commission is wasteful.”
Beshear went on to say that United States Attorney Kerry Harvey has definitively stated to the public and the press that there was no involvement by me or my office.
“The sworn affidavit in that case also found there was no knowledge by any campaign related to any contributions,” Beshear said. “My campaign is awaiting a routine audit by the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, and will then donate any remaining funds to Common Cause, a government watchdog organization.”
Beshear and Bevin will face off in court later this over Bevin’s 4.5 percent current fiscal year cuts to higher education in the commonwealth, which Beshear contends is a violation of the Kentucky Constitution.
Former Gov. Steve Beshear also issued a comment on Bevin’s attack insinuating a campaign effort for the GOP.
“At some point, Matt Bevin has to realize there is a time to campaign and a time to govern,” former Gov. Beshear said. “Attacking me in an effort to distract the public from his Benefind debacle and his plan to strip away healthcare from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians will not work.
“Today’s accusations, which have absolutely no basis in truth, continue this pathetic spectacle,” Beshear continued. “There was never any attempt to pressure employees to make political contributions, and we followed both the spirit and the letter of procurement laws. Furthermore, I made my tax returns public all eight years I was governor, something Gov. Bevin refuses to do even after promising to do so. Kentuckians deserve better.”
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