Attorney General-elect Andy Beshear has borrowed heavily from the administration of his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, to form his leadership team.
At a news conference Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda, Beshear, a Democrat, announced that two cabinet secretaries in his father’s administration will have key roles in his office.
Former Personnel Secretary Tim Longmeyer will be Beshear’s deputy attorney general and former Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown will be head of the attorney general office’s criminal branch.
Beshear, who will be sworn in Jan. 4 as Kentucky’s 50th attorney general, said he has structured his office to focus on child abuse, elder abuse, violence against women and the state’s drug epidemic at no additional cost to his annual budget of about $30 million.
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He has set up what he has called an “initiatives office” to keep up with current and new programs throughout his office. Heading that will be former state Rep. Don Pasley, who was Gov. Beshear’s rural and municipal aid commissioner in the Transportation Cabinet.
Two assistant deputy attorneys general will head the office’s two other branches — civil and family. Beshear said he created the family branch to draw extra attention to challenges facing Kentucky families.
Regina “Gina” Carey will serve as the executive director for the Office of the Prosecutors Advisory Council, a position she has held since 2013. Carey has served the Prosecutors Advisory Council in nearly every position in the office throughout the past 25 years.
Vickie Wise will head the Office of Criminal Appeals. Wise previously served as an assistant attorney general in the Office of Criminal Appeals, director of the Office of Victims Advocacy and as the director of the Office of Administrative Services. Most recently, Wise served as general counsel for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
Special Prosecutions Unit will be directed by Shawna Virgin Kincer, who currently serves as the executive director of the office. She worked as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and worked as an assistant in the 14th Judicial Circuit.
John Moberly will head the Department of Criminal Investigations. Moberly has 24 years of experience with the Kentucky State Police and is a certified Kentucky Law Enforcement Counsel Instructor.
Mitchel T. Denham will supervise the civil branch. Denham currently oversees the office’s criminal division and previously served as the executive director of the Attorney General’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control. Prior to joining the attorney general’s office, Denham was a deputy division chief and senior narcotics prosecutor at the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.
In the civil branch, La Tasha Buckner will head the Office of Civil and Environmental Law. Buckner, who has 16 years of litigation experience before federal, state and administrative bodies, served as deputy executive director for the Public Protection Cabinet’s Office of Legal Services and was the general counsel to the cabinet’s Department of Charitable Gaming and to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
To manage the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse, Beshear named Michael Wright, who served in the attorney general’s office for more than 20 years, working as a prosecutor, branch manager and litigation manager.
Beshear was asked if he will legally challenge Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s plans to dismantle the health benefit exchange known as Kynect and to curb the expansion of Medicaid — two major initiatives of his father’s administration. He said he wants to give Bevin the opportunity to review the health programs and accurately determine their impact on people. He also noted that he has offered to meet with the new governor.
Rebecca Goodman will manage the Office of Rate Intervention. Goodman has served as general counsel for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, and the Kentucky Electric Generation and Transmission Siting Board. Most recently, she served as the executive director of the Office of Legal Services with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
To head the Family Branch, Beshear selected Maryellen Buxton Mynear. Mynear has served as the inspector general for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She previously worked for the Office of the Attorney General where she directed litigation for the Office of Consumer Protection, an office she will now oversee, for nearly 10 years.
Mynear also served four years as assistant general counsel for the Kentucky School Boards Association and spent four years with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Department of Law.
In the family branch, Gerina Whethers will head the Office of Senior Protection. Whethers currently serves as the executive director in the Office of Victims Advocacy in the attorney general’s office. She previously worked for 10 years on criminal cases in Jefferson County and worked as assistant county attorney in the Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Unit for the Jefferson County Attorney, prosecuting cases of child sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse.
Allyson Cox Taylor joins the team as the director of the Office of Child Abuse. Taylor’s experience includes prosecuting cases for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Neglect and Sexual Assault Unit. She served as the director of the Prosecutors Advisory Council and the Office of Victims Advocacy in the attorney general’s office and most recently served as chief of staff and legislative liaison to the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
Gretchen Hunt will oversee the Office of Victims Advocacy. She has advocated for the rights of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking for the past 15 years. She has worked at the Center for Women and Families, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.
Also in Beshear’s office, Holly McCoy-Johnson will serve as head of administration services. She has 20 years of experience in state government including oversight of fiscal management, personnel, IT services and operational support for the Public Protection Cabinet, the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Labor Cabinet.
Susan Rieber, who recently served as chief of staff to former first lady Jane Beshear, will be an assistant to the attorney general.
Terry Sebastian will be communications director. He has handled communications for two governors, the auditor of public accounts and state treasurer. Sebastian also worked in the Legislative Research Commission’s public information office.
Crystal Pryor Staley will serve as the deputy communications director. Staley joins the team with eight years of experience at the Personnel Cabinet where she served as chief information officer and legislative liaison.
Also working in communications will be Kenneth Mansfield, who worked on computers in Gov. Beshear’s office.
Beshear also said his wife, Britainy Beshear, will be an unpaid adviser in his office.