Andy Beshear’s ‘tainted’ donations may be more than what’s in his fund
Here’s everything you need to know about the Kentucky attorney general who may be running for governor against Matt Bevin. Rachel Aretakis/Louisville Courier Journal
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Democratic candidate for governor Andy Beshear has promised that any money his 2015 campaign for attorney general received that was tainted by the Tim Longmeyer kickback scandal will be donated to the political watchdog group Common Cause.
“We don’t want tainted dollars, never wanted tainted dollars, and so we want to make sure we do the right thing,” Beshear said at a wide-ranging news conference last month.
But an analysis of the campaign contributions to Beshear’s 2015 primary and general election committees shows that Beshear may not have enough remaining in his current balance to cover what might be considered “tainted” dollars.
Beshear announced Monday that he will run for governor next year.
Longmeyer and three co-defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a scheme in which Longmeyer used his position as state government’s Personnel Cabinet secretary under Gov. Steve Beshear (Andy’s father) to direct insurance companies that administered public employee health insurance plans to hire consulting firm MC Squared to conduct surveys of the employees’ satisfaction with the plan.
MC Squared, of Lexington, got about $2 million in such work from the insurance companies between 2009 and 2015, and court records show that about half of that was kicked back to Longmeyer and Larry O’Bryan, a longtime Democratic political activist from Louisville who also pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme.
Andy Beshear appointed Longmeyer to be his top deputy when he took office in January 2016, but Longmeyer abruptly resigned less than three months later just before he was charged by the U.S. government.
Federal prosecutors said there was no evidence Steve or Andy Beshear ever knew anything about Longmeyer’s prolonged conspiracy. Andy and Steve Beshear said they were stunned by the charges, and Andy quickly promised to donate the entire ending balance of his campaign fund to Common Cause.
The donation must await completion of a routine audit of his campaign by the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The finance registry expects that audit will be done in October.
“All I’m awaiting is them allowing me to close the campaign, and then we’ll provide every dollar that’s left over to Common Cause,” Beshear said at his June news conference.
But the last reports of Beshear’s 2015 primary and election campaign committees filed with the election registry in December showed a combined balance of $26,624.
And the Courier Journal’s analysis of contributions to his campaign from Longmeyer, his immediate family members, other defendants who’ve pleaded guilty, and their family members shows that the amount of tainted money could be higher than that.
Beshear said at the June news conference that an early affidavit filed in the Longmeyer case mentioned $6,000 in tainted donations laundered by Longmeyer through straw donors. Pressed as to whether the amount could be much larger, he said, “We have no idea, and we can’t speculate. The best and maximum amount of money that I can provide is everything left in the campaign.”
Court records of Longmeyer and other defendants specify all of the situations where Longmeyer and other co-defendants reimbursed others — whose names are listed as donors in campaign finance reports — for their contributions.
But a federal prosecutor described as “substantial” both the amount Longmeyer kept for himself and the amount he used to funnel illegally to campaigns.
But a review of contributions posted on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance database raises questions about donations to Beshear that exceed his campaign balance. Consider:
- Longmeyer and his wife each donated the maximum, $2,000. That’s $4,000 to begin with.
- O’Bryan and his wife also gave the maximum $2,000 each. That gets the total to $8,000.
- Sam McIntosh, the head of MC Squared, who like Longmeyer and O’Bryan is also serving time in federal prison for his role in the scheme, did not give to Beshear’s campaign. But his mother, sister, and two nieces each gave $1,000 to Beshear’s campaign on March 31, 2014. That brings the total to $12,000
- Another MC Squared employee found guilty in the scheme was Myron Harrod, of Lexington, who also gave $2,000. Total: $14,000.
- At least four other MC Squared employees at the time of the conspiracy are listed as giving a combined $4,500 to the Beshear campaign. Those contributions would bring the total to $18,500.
Longmeyer recently testified in the trial of James Sullivan, a Democratic consultant from Frankfort who was convicted for passing a $1,000 bribe to Longmeyer in 2016 during a brief period while Longmeyer was secretly working undercover for federal investigators before he resigned.
He testified that he passed along some of his ill-gotten gains from the MC Squared conspiracy to family and friends to make political contributions. That raises questions about a large set of additional potentially tainted contributions to Andy Beshear’s 2015 campaign, including those of:
- Five members of his immediate family together donated $7,000 to the Andy Beshear campaign. That would raise the total of possibly tainted contributions to $25,500.
- Longmeyer’s friend Greg Reddington, who Longmeyer hired in a non-merit job in the Personnel Cabinet in the last year of the Steve Beshear administration, and Reddington’s wife combined to give $3,000. That would bring the total to $28,500.
Reddington did not return phone messages left at his home. Also, Longmeyer’s father John Longmeyer and brother Joseph Longmeyer — who are among the family members who donated to the Beshear campaign, did not return phone messages left at their law office.
Jonathan Smith, spokesperson for Beshear’s new gubernatorial campaign, echoed Beshear’s comments of last month when asked for comment for this story. “Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney have said the attorney general had no knowledge of any wrongful actions. Nevertheless, we have committed to returning every single dollar after the (election registry) audit is complete to Common Cause…”
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announces he will run for governor. Alton Strupp, Alton Strupp/Courier Journal