Politics & Government

Convicted state official has lots of supporters, but not his old agency

Timothy Longmeyer left the federal courthouse after pleading guilty to accepting kickbacks in Lexington, Ky, on April 19, 2016. Longmeyer, the former secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, pled guilty to accepting kickbacks in exchange for securing contracts.
Timothy Longmeyer left the federal courthouse after pleading guilty to accepting kickbacks in Lexington, Ky, on April 19, 2016. Longmeyer, the former secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, pled guilty to accepting kickbacks in exchange for securing contracts. palcala@herald-leader.com

More than 70 people submitted letters seeking leniency for former state Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer in a federal corruption case.

Longmeyer will learn Thursday how much that support helps. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Karen K.Caldwell.

The state agency he once ran also submitted a statement to Caldwell as the victim in the case. It didn’t urge any particular sentence for Longmeyer, but was certainly a condemnation.

Longmeyer shattered the trust given to him and and has not apologized for criminal conduct that employees fear reflects badly on them, the statement said.

“Mr. Longmeyer used this cabinet for for his own personal and political purposes,” the statement said.

The statement said the cabinet continues to look into areas outside the state employee health plan “tainted by Mr. Longmeyer’s acts,” including the state workers’ compensation program, the selection of lawyers to represent the agency and the coercion of state employees to make campaign contributions.

The kickback scheme at issue in Longmeyer’s case involved the health insurance plan for state workers. He has not been charged in connection with any of the other issues cited in the Personnel Cabinet letter, which was not signed.

Cabinet spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said the statement was written by senior staffers on behalf of employees and that Gov. Matt Bevin’s office was not involved. Longmeyer was secretary of the cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat who was replaced by Bevin, a Republican, in December.

Longmeyer pleaded guilty in April to receiving $197,500 in cash and $6,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Lexington-based MC Squared in 2014 and 2015 while he headed the Personnel Cabinet.

Dozens of family members, friends and fellow parishioners at St. Agnes in Louisville told Caldwell that the man they knew was different.

Supporters said Longmeyer is a devoted, loving father active in his church; a hard-working, altruistic public servant who believes in the power of politics and government to help people; and a selfless man who put other’s needs ahead of his.

“Simply said, Tim is a good person, who made a mistake,” wrote Chuck Flaherty, who attends church with Longmeyer.

Gary Schaaf, who went to law school with Longmeyer and roomed with him, said Longmeyer would do anything to help.

“Back in the days before cell phones, when a quarter made a call from a pay phone, if my car was broken down in the middle of nowhere and I only had one quarter, that call would have been to Tim,” Schaaf said.

Longmeyer worked at the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office after law school at the University of Louisville, handling cases involving truancy and child abuse and neglect, friends said.

He went to work early to help mentor families with truancy problems and went out at night to find witnesses for cases, his wife, Lyn Longmeyer, told Caldwell in a letter.

Supporters said Longmeyer developed a nationally recognized truancy prosecution program while at the office and helped set up a program to let mothers drop off unwanted newborns at hospitals without fear of reprisal.

“The program literally saved lives, and was successful enough to be mirrored and expanded statewide,” wrote Boyce Martin III, son of the longtime chief judge of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The abuse cases eventually came to haunt Longmeyer, and he switched to representing the office in legislative matters, his wife said.

After Longmeyer went to work in state government, he helped save taxpayers millions of dollars on insurance for current and retired employees, friends said.

Schaaf said Longmeyer approached public service with the “belief that the political process could and actually would help people who needed it most.”

Even as a top state official, Longmeyer remained down-to-earth, Louisville attorney Charles H. Zimmerman Jr. said in a letter.

Zimmerman said he met Longmeyer last year when he coached Longmeyer’s son in Little League baseball.

Longmeyer sometimes came to games or practices straight from work and would carry gear, coach a base or even clean the dugout in his suit if needed, Zimmerman said.

“Nothing was below him,” Zimmerman said. “I can say without fear of contradiction that Tim Longmeyer is one of the most loving, patient, supportive, caring, and dedicated parents I have ever met — and that includes thousands of parents.”

Lyn Longmeyer wrote of what a blow it was when her husband told her he had made a mistake and would be going to jail.

“Everything he worked for, that he accomplished, that we sacrificed for, was gone,” Lyn Longmeyer wrote.

Longmeyer’s fall has devastated their children. One daughter said she will never be happy, and another said she feels she has lost both parents because her mother has to work all day and her father is going to jail, Lyn Longmeyer said.

Supporters told Caldwell that Longmeyer has been severely punished already by the loss of his job, the likely loss of his law license and the public embarrassment.

“The conviction, the attendant public shame and the very real financial and emotional consequences of both upon his own life and his family are devastating,” wrote Marc Murphy, an attorney and former prosecutor in Louisville. “He need not be physically removed from his family, and his community, for him to be punished more.”