Reversing a decision he made last week, Attorney General Andy Beshear is recusing himself from a state investigation of his former deputy, Tim Longmeyer, who already has pleaded guilty to bribery in a federal case. Citing a conflict of interest, Beshear has asked Franklin Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland to handle the case instead.
“I got a phone call from them yesterday telling me they had a conflict in the case, and since I’m the commonwealth’s attorney in this county, could I take a look at it,” Cleveland said Thursday.
“I said, ‘Fine, just send me a letter appointing me.’ I’m still awaiting the letter,” Cleveland said. “Hopefully, they’ll also send me a file or something, too, any evidence from any investigation they’ve done so far, because basically all I know about this case is what I’ve read in the newspapers. From what I’ve read, I thought the feds were taking care of this.”
Through a spokesman, Beshear said: “Last week I showed my commitment to pursue public corruption regardless of the source. As part of that pursuit, we have appointed a special prosecutor to handle the Tim Longmeyer case. We are confident Mr. Cleveland will hold him accountable.”
Republican Party of Kentucky Communications Director Tres Watson issued the following statement:
“Since defiantly rebuffing calls to recuse himself last week, what has Andy Beshear uncovered about his father’s administration and his own office and campaign that led to this change of heart? Kentuckians deserve answers.”
Longmeyer pleaded guilty in April to soliciting more than $200,000 in bribes from a state sub-contractor, MC Squared Consulting of Lexington, while he was personnel secretary for then-Gov. Steve Beshear, who is Andy Beshear’s father. The FBI pursued that case, which remains active with more indictments possible. Longmeyer faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 18 in U.S. District Court.
Last week, the Herald-Leader reported that newly unsealed court records showed illegal campaign donations from Longmeyer’s bribery scheme went to Democrats Andy Beshear and Jack Conway, who failed in a gubernatorial bid. Records also suggested that Longmeyer helped MC Squared get fraudulent “voter outreach” work from Beshear’s election campaign, and he was offering to help the contractor from inside the attorney general’s office after he was hired there in January.
Following the Herald-Leader’s story, Andy Beshear told reporters May 4 that he would pursue state charges against Longmeyer, although he did not specify what they would be. Some critics suggested that Beshear should recuse himself from the case, given his relationship with Longmeyer, but he disagreed.
“It’s my job to hold people accountable,” Beshear told reporters. “The Office of Attorney General does not tolerate corruption, and we will charge anyone who engages in it — even if they used to sit down the hall.”