Politics & Government

Here’s everything we know about the personal finances of Kentucky governor candidates

VP Mike Pence brings endorsement to Bevin’s 2019 reelection campaign

US vice president Mike Pence flew into Lexington Friday, March 8, 2019, to speak at governor Matt Bevin's reelection campaign fundraiser within the Aviation Museum of Kentucky.
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US vice president Mike Pence flew into Lexington Friday, March 8, 2019, to speak at governor Matt Bevin's reelection campaign fundraiser within the Aviation Museum of Kentucky.

Shortly after Democrat Adam Edelen announced he was running for governor with Louisville businessman Gill Holland as his running mate for lieutenant governor, Edelen’s campaign said Holland would not be releasing his tax returns.

The statement sparked criticism — Democrats have railed against Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s refusal to release his taxes — but the campaign stood firm.

“Adam will be releasing his complete tax returns and his running mate has already made a complete disclosure of all his finances,” said Matt Erwin, the campaign’s spokesman.

In an era when politicians feel more comfortable refusing to share the detailed financial information available on tax returns, one of the few ways to glean insight about how a Kentucky candidate makes money comes from the financial disclosure forms they’re required to file with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

The forms can be agonizingly vague — some candidates get away with listing “etc” for their stock investments and none list how much they’ve made from their ventures. But they do provide a basic level of detail about how candidates earn a living when they’re not on the campaign trail.

Here’s what little we know about the finances of the three major Democratic candidates for governor — Edelen, Attorney General Andy Beshear and House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins — and the two major Republican candidates — Bevin and Rep. Robert Goforth, East Bernstadt.

So far, only Beshear has released his 2018 tax return.

Adam Edelen and Gill Holland

Between he and his wife, Augusta Brown-Holland, Holland had investments larger than $10,000 in 152 private and public companies in 2018, including Brown-Forman, the alcohol company where Brown-Holland sits on the board.

Holland’s investments are mostly in the private sector and are centered around development and the arts in Louisville. But his wife, a director at Brown-Forman, has investments in 96 public companies, ranging from Apple to International Paper to First Solar to Exxon-Mobil.

Four of those investments were in companies that Beshear is currently suing for their role in Kentucky’s opioid epidemic: AmeriSource Bergen, Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Erwin said the Holland’s removed their money from those accounts when Holland got serious about running for lieutenant governor.

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Democrat Adam Edelen announced he is running for governor in 2019 during a news conference held in the The Historic Lexington Courthouse Square on West Main Street in Lexington. Edelen selected Gill Holland, left, to be his running mate for lieutenant governor. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Edelen’s financial disclosure was a little more standard. His investments are contained within an investment account at Fidelity and he owns Edelen Strategic Ventures, a business he formed shortly after he left office as auditor. In the time since, he’s used the company to launch a solar power project in Eastern Kentucky.

He’s involved in three other companies: EDC Holdings, Goldenrod Renewables and Carbon Capture Resources. EDC Holdings was organized by Geoffery Dunn, a former member of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration, in 2017 and Erwin said it’s how Edelen, Dunn and Nathan Cryder pay for their office space.

Cryder is also involved with Goldenrod Renewables and is listed as the company’s registered agent on the secretary of state’s website.

Carbon Capture Resources appears to offer technology to coal mine operators, but the company’s website is vague. To describe “what we do,” the company simply says “LLC offers what has been described as ‘a simple, elegant solution to a big problem.’” It also promises a “one-stop-shop for coalmine owners seeking to generate revenue from their asset inventory.” Edelen is one of eight members listed on the website.

Andy Beshear and Jacqueline Coleman

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Beshear was the first candidate to release his taxes this year, a relatively easy task for him because almost all of his income comes from his position as Kentucky attorney general, which paid $109,789 in 2018. He has more than $10,000 in investments with U.S. Bank and Microsoft.

Beshear’s running mate, Jacqueline Coleman, took a leave of absence from her role as assistant principal at Nelson County High School in 2018. Her primary employer in 2018 was the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative, where Beshear’s campaign says she is a part-time literacy consultant. She started at the organization on July 23rd, shortly after she and Beshear launched their campaign. The report does not say how much she is paid and Coleman has only released her 2017 taxes, prior to taking her job with the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative.

She also was employed as an adjunct professor at Campbellsville University, teaching political science, while working toward her doctorate in educational leadership and is a research assistant at the University of Kentucky.

Rocky Adkins and Stephanie Horne

Rocky Adkins is a long-time member of the Kentucky General Assembly, a part time legislature that pays him $225.62, plus a travel stipend for each day he’s in Frankfort. To supplement that salary, he’s employed by a company called RJA Enterprises.

According to the secretary of state’s website, RJA Enterprises became a limited liability corporation in July, a few months before Adkins launched his campaign. Adkins has billed himself as the president of the company since at least 2013 and the company has been around since 2007.

His campaign said RJA Enterprises is a project development company and did not provide further detail. He would not go into detail about the company when asked by the Herald-Leader in 2013, either.

In the short bios lawmakers submit to the Legislative Research Commission, Adkins has been vague since he took office in 1987. His bio in 1988 listed him as “employed by a coal firm.” That switched to coal executive by 1992 and then changed to marketing and public relations in 2000. By 2002, he was a public affairs director and has been listing public affairs in his bio since.

His running mate, Stephanie Horne, had a more straightforward form. She and her husband are attorneys at Horne and Horne law firm in Louisville and own interest in a property management company called KY42 Property. She has at least $10,000 invested in Horne Title and Escrow Services.

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House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins smiles at his running mate, Stephanie Horne, as state administration and elections director Mary Sue Helm reviews their filing papers Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, to run for governor and lieutenant governor.

Matt Bevin and Ralph Alvarado

Bevin, a multimillionaire who has been able to self-finance two campaigns, made most of his money in the finance industry. He moved to Kentucky in 1999 to work for National Asset Management until it was acquired by Invesco in 2001. He then formed his own investment company called Integrity Holdings, which he currently operates out of his home address.

He has also invested in Golden Rule Signs, a Louisville company that makes school and church signs, and Waycross Partners, a Louisville based investment firm that focuses on “long-short equity.” He is still the president of Bevin Bells, his family’s bell company based in East Hampton Connecticut.

Bevin has sold off several pieces of property since he’s been governor and currently owns three personal residences, two in Kentucky and one in Maine.

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, introduced his lieutenant governor running mate, Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester, on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 in Frankfort, Ky. Mark Mahan

While the Holland-Brown’s revealed all of the companies in which they have invested at least $10,000, Bevin simply listed “APPL, COP, etc.”

Katie Gabhart, executive director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, said as long as candidates provide an answer to each question, the commission cannot investigate the accuracy of that answer unless someone files a complaint.

“We just have to take that for what it’s worth and we have to remain passive,” Gabhart said.

Bevin’s campaign does not have a spokesperson yet, and his office did not immediately respond to a question seeking specifics about his investments.

Bevin’s running mate, State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, gets his primary paycheck from Alvarado Medical Services. Alvarado, a doctor, is the medical director at six nursing homes, a supervising physician at SHC Medical Partners, a company that brings medical services to nursing facilities, and a physician in Winchester.

His family has investments of more than $10,000 in Alvarado Medical Services, Grumpy Rooster Farm, AUA and Fidelity. Grumpy Rooster Farm is based in Winchester and owned by Alvarado’s wife and AUA is a commercial real estate company in Winchester, according to its 1999 articles of organization.

Robert Goforth and Michael Hogan

State Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt, listed his job as state representative. He owns several rental properties and previously owned several pharmacies in Kentucky before selling them. He’s the president of Project Daris, a substance abuse education program founded in March 2017.

His running mate, Michael Hogan, is the County Attorney in Lawrence County and has his own law office.

Robert Goforth
Republican Kentucky Rep. Robert Goforth of Laurel County, left, announced Jan. 8, 2019 he will run for governor with Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan, right, on his ticket. Bill Estep bestep@herald-leader.com

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