Republican Party of Kentucky spends Wednesday tweeting about possible conflicts of interest for Attorney General Beshear

07/19/2017 07:49 PM

The Republican Party of Kentucky again accused Attorney General Andy Beshear of conflicts of interest, this time unloading on the subject in a flurry of tweets on Wednesday.

The RPK didn’t just focus on Beshear’s potential conflicts of interest in his office’s investigation of the University of Louisville Foundation or his office’s potential inquiry of Gov. Matt Bevin’s home purchase or its settlement with drugmaker Purdue Pharma or its investigation of former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer.

They’re also raising possible conflicts of interest in a settlement earlier this month with drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals and UFLEX Limited, companies both represented by his former law firm, Stites & Harbison.

Endo Pharmaceuticals, represented by Stites & Harbison in a 2012 federal lawsuit, ended its production of the opiate medication Opana in July, and Beshear, whose name didn’t appear in court documents, praised the decision and said he made the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aware of his concerns with the drug. Beshear represented UFLEX, an Indian company that received $20 million in economic development incentives in 2011.

RPK spokesman Tres Watson said Beshear refused to release a list of clients he’s worked for as a private attorney when he was a candidate for attorney general, adding that the Republican Party isn’t “accusing him of any wrong doing, but we do believe the evidence is mounting and Kentuckians deserve answers.”

“In 2013, AG Jack Conway advised then candidate Andy Beshear to seek clearance from the Kentucky Bar Association to avoid these sorts of conflicts” Watson said in a statement. “There is zero evidence he took Conway’s advice and has refused to answer questions about it. Instead, Beshear has stubbornly refused to release his client list and begged the public to just ‘trust him’ when it comes to conflicts. Kentucky deserves better from the state’s highest law enforcement officer.”

Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley noted that Beshear earned recognition as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” four years in a row during his decade in private practice.

She called the GOP’s Twitter activity “another false personal attack by the Bevin administration.”

“More than two years before being elected attorney general, Beshear publicly disclosed every client for whom he performed any work related to the Office of the Attorney General, and even filed an extra disclosure not required under law,” Staley said in a statement.

“Before the next attack, Attorney General Beshear encourages the governor to think about the lack of transparency in his own administration and release his tax returns.”

Beshear named a pair of clients in his 2014 and 2015 financial disclosure forms, which cover the calendar year, who had issues before the Office of the Attorney General. In 2014, he listed “limited advice to the University of Louisville” and the Louisville Water Company and in 2015, he listed U of L, the Louisville Water Company and the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District. Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said last week that the U of L work pertained to the university’s hospital.

It’s unclear what extra disclosure Staley referred to in her statement. She did not return a follow-up email from Pure Politics.

Beshear himself addressed the issue Tuesday in La Grange when asked about RPK’s original request for recusal in his office’s inquiry into the U of L Foundation based on its representation by Stites & Harbison.

“If that was the way that conflicts worked, then the governor’s general counsel (Steve Pitt, formerly of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs) couldn’t be a part of virtually any of the litigations they’re in,” Beshear said. “Vickie Yates Brown (Glisson, formerly of Frost Brown Todd), the Cabinet for Health and Family Services couldn’t conduct virtually any business with the people that are in front of that cabinet. That’s not the way it works.

“The way that these conflicts work is you have to have been involved in the specific issue or to have had confidential information. We don’t have either, and at this point, with the information that we’ve received, there’s nothing that would implicate or suggest any type of conflict, but, again, if that arises, we’re going to do the right thing and we’ll address it at that point.”

In a follow-up statement, Watson again noted that Beshear declined to release a list of his clients in December 2014 while he was running for attorney general, and he asked the Democrat to produce a “safe harbor” letter from the Kentucky Bar Association, which provides ethics guidance based on past legal work. Beshear told Pure Politics in 2013 that he would follow such KBA procedures if elected.

“Until then, we will continue to press the issue and make sure his office is being held accountable to the people they serve,” Watson said in a statement.

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.

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