State worker, RPK allege Beshear administration broke campaign finance laws

08/01/2011 11:33 AM

A state employee in the Department of Juvenile Justice has alleged that members of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration broke campaign finance laws by strong-arming state employees to give money to Beshear’s re-election campaign.

Rodney Young, an employee at the Hazelwood Center for the Mentally Retarded in Louisville, sent a letter to Republican Party of Kentucky chairman Steve Robertson and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway outlining instances he talked soliciting of political donations to other employees in the department.

Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Conway, said Young’s letter arrived in the office today and staff were processing it according to their procedures. She said she could not comment further.

Robertson released Young’s letter to the press Monday morning.

Robertson also has filed identical complaints with the Executive Branch Ethics Committee and the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, based on the letter.

“Steve Beshear promised Kentuckians he would require his top officials to undergo extensive ethics training and that they would follow the law,” Robertson said in a statement. “He said the buck stops with him and asked us all to hold him accountable. That is exactly what we intend to do.”

In response to the GOP’s allegations, Matt Erwin, a spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, blamed the gubernatorial campaign of Republican David Williams, a Beshear opponent this fall, for grasping at straws.

“Twenty-four hours after a poll was released showing the Williams-Farmer campaign down by 24 points, the Republican Party of Kentucky has filed a complaint based on unsubstantiated third party rumors,” Erwin said in a statement.

“Nowhere in this complaint does the filer ever claim he was pressured by anyone to make a donation to a political campaign nor does he present any evidence that anyone was pressured to make a donation,” Erwin’s statement added.

In a letter dated July 27, Young describes a conversation between Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Charles Geveden with some of Young’s colleagues in the Justice Cabinet in December 2010.

Young wrote that two division directors in the department were called by Gevenden, who asked the directors “How much to do you value your job?” Young then alleged that Geveden urged the directors to write a $500 check and give it to Geveden by the end of that week before a fundraiser for Beshear.

According to Young, if the two division directors refused to write the checks, Geveden told them “I may not be able to retain you.”

Young goes on to name many other non-merit employees who he says were solicited by Geveden by January 1.

The RPK also references a story by Ronnie Ellis of CNHI in December last year, in which many non-merit employees complain of being solicited for campaign contributions.

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