Politics & Government

Andy Beshear calls for heroin solutions that his dad already signed into law

Andy Beshear
Andy Beshear

Andy Beshear, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, has been promoting his plan to fight heroin use in Kentucky, including mandatory minimum prison terms for dealers, better access to anti-overdose medication for emergency workers and a "Good Samaritan law" that legally protects drug users who report an overdose to authorities, all of which he says should be done "without further delay."

But Beshear's proposals — featured on his campaign website — already are the law. They were included in last winter's hotly debated Senate Bill 192, signed by his father, Gov. Steve Beshear, in March, and crafted in part by the Republican nominee for attorney general, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville.

On Monday, Andy Beshear's campaign said he was aware of the heroin law enacted six months ago, and that portion of his campaign platform needed to be updated. A new plan to "combat the spread of heroin and synthetic drugs" will be released next week, Beshear spokeswoman Galia Slayen said.

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"While the website is admittedly out of date, what's most important is that Andy has and will continue to talk about this epidemic and how he will use the office of the attorney general to better protect Kentucky families," Slayen said.

For the younger Beshear, 37, a corporate attorney at his father's old law firm, Stites & Harbison, the lapse raises fresh questions about his qualifications to be the state's top law-enforcement officer.

"I don't believe he has ill intent," Westerfield said Monday. "I just don't think he has any real connection to what we're doing in Frankfort about heroin and other problems facing the people of Kentucky.

"He spent all of last year campaigning by himself as the only declared candidate for attorney general, and he didn't stop by the Capitol once to attend a judiciary committee hearing or listen to any testimony on the drug problem or offer any insights as we worked to negotiate the heroin bill. We worked a lot of late nights and weekends to get everyone behind that bill, Democrats and Republicans, and he was nowhere to be seen."

Still, Beshear holds a tremendous financial advantage over Westerfield in the Nov. 3 election. Drawing heavily on his father's political appointees, Frankfort lobbyists and state contractors, Beshear had raised almost $2 million by July 18, the most recent reporting date. Westerfield, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 2012, had raised $88,380.

The massive war chest has allowed Beshear to produce several television commercials promoting his candidacy. In the first, which began airing two weeks ago, Beshear's wife, Britainy, praises his intention to protect Kentucky's children.

"Honest and caring like his dad, Andy has a real plan to toughen penalties for child abuse, strengthen background checks for daycare workers and fight the spread of heroin," she says in the spot.