Attorney General Andy Beshear has released a few hundred emails that were sent to or received by his former deputy, Tim Longmeyer, who pleaded guilty to bribery last month in U.S. District Court.
However, 13 of Longmeyer’s emails were entirely blacked out before the attorney general’s office released them this week to the Herald-Leader, which had requested them under the Kentucky Open Records Act. They had titles that included phrases such as “Report Unflattering” and “Second Amendment actions.” One apparently was a request for assistance for a constituent from state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, who is chairwoman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
Initially, the attorney general’s office defended its right to withhold the contents of the emails under various exemptions in the Open Records Act. After the Herald-Leader published a story online about the censored emails Friday, the attorney general’s office reversed itself and agreed to release them intact.
“In the interest of public transparency in this unique situation concerning Mr. Longmeyer, we are waiving these exemptions for the emails,” Beshear spokesman Terry Sebastian said in a statement.
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The attorney general has provided 366 of Longmeyer’s emails to the newspaper so far and expects to release more in coming days, Sebastian said.
In Kentucky, the attorney general enforces the Open Records Act on public agencies.
Longmeyer pleaded guilty April 19 to soliciting more than $200,000 in bribes and illegal campaign donations from state business deals. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced in August. Nobody else has been charged in the case, but federal prosecutors say they are continuing to investigate.
Longmeyer served as personnel secretary to Beshear’s father, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, when the bribery took place. He joined Andy Beshear’s office as deputy attorney general in January.
On March 25, the day Longmeyer was charged with bribery, the attorney general’s office requested all of his state government emails from the Commonwealth Office of Technology. The Herald-Leader recently requested a copy of the same emails from the attorney general’s office.
None of Longmeyer’s emails produced by the attorney general’s office so far show evidence of criminal activity. Most are routine office business. In one, dated March 25, Andy Beshear announces to his staff that Longmeyer has resigned as deputy and been charged by the FBI with bribery.
“I am shocked, disappointed and even devastated,” Beshear wrote. “No question, this news is a blow. It has hit me in the gut.”
In the redacted email with “Report Unflattering” in its title, Longmeyer and others in the attorney general’s office braced for possible questions about Kentucky’s 2015 drop in Medicaid fraud collections. The email titled “Second Amendment actions” was an internal response to the state of Wisconsin asking last winter for allies in its opposition to President Obama’s gun control proposals. Longmeyer wrote that Kentucky would not want to do anything that interfered with gun ownership rights.