Politics & Government

Former Beshear appointee admits to ethics violations involving campaign money

A member of former Gov. Steve Beshear’s Personnel Cabinet admitted Monday to violating three counts of Kentucky’s ethics law.

Walter Gaffield, of Lexington, admitted to using his state position to solicit campaign contributions for two gubernatorial campaigns and one Jefferson County Judicial campaign from non-merit employees.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission found that Gaffield both solicited and collected campaign contributions during work hours and made reference to the employee’s supervisor or appointing authority at various points between 2010 and 2016. Gaffield no longer works for the Personnel Cabinet.

A news release from the ethics commission did not specify which candidates Gaffield collected money for, but he has donated $4,300 of his own money to Democratic candidates since 2009, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Those donations include money for Beshear and Jack Conway, the 2015 Democratic nominee for governor.

Beshear could not be reached for comment.

Gaffield must pay a $6,000 fine and is subject to a public reprimand from the ethics commission.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, hired an Indiana law firm last year to investigate alleged corruption in the Beshear administration. In an 18-page report released in January, the law firm alleged that state employees were pressured to donate to the 2015 campaigns of Jack Conway, Attorney General Andy Beshear, the Kentucky Democratic Party and the Capitol Club, which raised money for Democrats from state employees in the Frankfort area.

The report also included Tim Longmeyer, the former Personnel Cabinet secretary under Steve Beshear who pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges last year. The report said many of the officials who solicited donations did so under orders from Longmeyer.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics