Politics & Government

First attack ad in Democratic primary for governor links Beshear to bribery scandal

2019 Democratic gubernatorial candidates announce their campaigns

Listen to Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear and Adam Edelen announce their campaigns for the 2019 Kentucky governor race.
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Listen to Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear and Adam Edelen announce their campaigns for the 2019 Kentucky governor race.

A political action committee supporting former Auditor Adam Edelen launched the first attack ad of the Democratic gubernatorial primary Thursday, criticizing some of the sources of Attorney General Andy Beshear’s campaign money in 2015.

“In Andy Beshear’s world, it’s all about the money,” a deep-voiced narrator says, before noting that Beshear benefited politically from contributions by Purdue Pharmaceuticals and that some of the money used to bribe Tim Longmeyer, Beshear’s former Deputy Attorney General, was donated to his campaign.

Beshear’s campaign manager, Eric Hyers, criticized the ad, saying it’s “why people are so cynical about politics.”

“We knew Adam Edelen and his allies were getting frustrated and desperate, but now they’re just doing Matt Bevin’s dirty work,” Hyers said. “Kentuckians deserve better than the dishonesty and lack of transparency they are getting from the Edelen/Holland ticket.”

The ad touches on longstanding criticisms Republican lawmakers have made about Beshear, particularly over his association with Longmeyer.

“Once in office, Andy’s handpicked deputy Tim Longmeyer was found guilty of accepting over $200,000 in bribes. Longmeyer gave some of the bribe money to Beshear’s campaign,” the narrator says.

Longmeyer was found guilty of accepting bribes in order to secure state contracts dating back to his time as personnel secretary in former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration. Longmeyer was charged shortly after taking a job as Andy Beshear’s Deputy Attorney General, the second in command in that office. Another man, James Sullivan, was found guilty of giving a $1,000 bribe to Longmeyer while he was working in the Attorney General’s office. There was no evidence suggesting Andy Beshear knew anything about the bribes.

Beshear donated the $14,000 left in his Attorney General campaign account to Common Cause, a government ethics watchdog group, to make up for the unknown amount of tainted money contributed to his campaign.

“I think the intent of Mr. Beshear is very honorable,” said Richard Beliles, the chairman of Common Cause in Kentucky. “He’s trying to do the right thing with dirty money.”

Beliles said he sent the money to the federal branch of the organization earlier this year.

The PAC, Kentuckians for a Better Future, also accused Beshear of benefiting from money donated by Purdue Pharma.

Purdue Pharma never gave directly to Andy Beshear’s campaign. Instead, the PAC is referencing a $100,000 donation Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, made to the Democratic Attorneys General Association in October 2015. The Democratic group then made a donation to the Bluegrass Alliance for Consumer Rights, who in turn, purchased $630,000 in ads to attack Beshear’s Republican opponent in the 2015 race, Whitney Westerfield.

“Beshear benefited from hundreds of thousands of spending from outside groups bankrolled by corporations and insurance companies, even $100,000 from Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the OxyContin that caused the opioid epidemic,” the ad narrator says.

Former Attorney General Jack Conway settled a lawsuit with Purdue Pharma for $24 million shortly before Beshear took office. At the time, Beshear was a lawyer for Stites & Harbison, which represented Purdue Pharma in the lawsuit.

As Attorney General, Beshear has launched nine lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

The ad marks the first televised attack against a candidate in the Democratic primary, but the PAC launching it has come under fire as well.

Kentuckians for a Better Future’s latest campaign finance report revealed that most of its money is coming from people closely associated with Edelen and his running mate, Louisville businessman Gill Holland. Christina Brown, Holland’s mother-in-law, gave $500,000 to the PAC. Steve Wilson, the owner of 21C Hotels who is married to a member of the Brown family, gave another $41,000. Another $40,000 came from people closely tied to Edelen’s business ventures.

InsiderLouisville also reported Edelen’s campaign shares an office with the public relations firm used by the PAC.

That led to criticism from the Republican Governors Association, which pointed out that Edelen’s campaign has pledged not to accept corporate PAC donations, but is being supported indirectly by a PAC.

“Edelen’s ties to Kentuckians for a Better Future raise serious questions about his ethics, undermine a central tenet of his candidacy, and show that he cannot be trusted to lead,” said RGA Deputy Communications Director John Burke.

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