Politics & Government

Ad attacking Andy Beshear pulled from airwaves by super PAC that supports Adam Edelen

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

A super PAC supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen quickly withdrew a television ad Thursday that attacked Andy Beshear for representing the Boy Scouts of America in an abuse lawsuit after Edelen and Beshear criticized the ad.

The ad, purchased by Kentuckians for a Better Future, uses reporting from the Herald-Leader to criticize Beshear for his role in getting a child sexual abuse lawsuit dismissed in Paducah in 2012. Kentuckians for a Better Future is an independent group funded mostly by the mother-in-law of Edelen’s running mate and some of Edelen’s business partners.

“Andy Beshear is all about the money, now we learn how he made his money,” the ad says. “As a lawyer, Andy defended some of the worst of the worst. According to official court documents, Beshear got the case of a boy scout leader accused of abuse thrown out on a technicality. Andy chided the accusers for waiting too long to come forward.

Matt Erwin, a spokesman for Edelen’s campaign, said the ad went too far and called for it to be taken down. Campaigns are not allowed to coordinate with independent political action committees.

“That ad crosses the line and we hope it is pulled from the airwaves immediately,” Erwin said.

Kentuckians for a Better Future said they were taking down the ad because of that statement.

“Per the Edelen for Governor campaign’s public request to remove the Scouts television ad, Kentuckians for Better Future will rotate the ad off the air immediately,” the group said. “However, KBF stands by the content of the ad, as Beshear’s actions are widely reported by the Herald-Leader and Courier Journal.”

As a private attorney at Stites & Harbison, Beshear defended the Boy Scouts of America, not the man accused of sexual assault, in the two cases. He wrote a brief saying the Boy Scouts could not be held responsible because the men, who said they were abused in the 70s, waited too long to come forward. Kentucky’s statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit related to sexual abuse is five years.

Beshear has drawn a distinction between defending an abuser and defending an institution that is accused of covering up abuse, as he did in this situation. There is no statute of limitations on criminal charges against an abuser, but Beshear has defended a statute of limitations on civil suits seeking damages.

“There is a question that you ultimately hit when it’s an organization,” Beshear said. “... if a long enough time goes by, it creates a constitutional question of fair trial. That’s what the statutes are meant to address.”

Beshear has deflected criticism of his work for Boy Scouts by pointing to his efforts as attorney general to combat child abuse and prosecute sexual predators of children.

“Adam Edelen and his super PAC are acting more like Matt Bevin every single day— refusing to release his tax returns, attacking the integrity of judges, and launching baseless, desperate smears,” said Eric Hyers, Beshear’s campaign manager. “If Kentucky families want to reject Matt Bevin, they must first reject Adam Edelen.”

Megan Wright, a rape survivor who has appeared in an ad for Beshear, said the ad is “exploiting the fears of survivors to try to win a political campaign.”

Beshear’s campaign also released a statement from retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Mary Noble and former Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Jim Shake that denounced a line in the ad that noted the judge in the case was appointed by Andy Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear

“It’s wrong and disqualifying for a politician like Adam Edelen and his super PAC to attack the integrity of a sitting judge, who was elected by the people to serve our commonwealth,” the statement said. “We should be building up faith and bringing Kentuckians together, not tearing down foundational institutions of our democracy like the judicial system.”

Edelen has talked about the Boy Scouts case in the past. After a debate earlier this spring, he told reporters it appeared Beshear had a “guilty conscience” because he represented “pedophiles.”