Beshear caught off guard by questions about campaign allegations


by Adrianna Hopkins

Posted on August 2, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 3 at 12:18 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)- A political firestorm seemed to catch Governor Steve Beshear by suprise Tuesday, when we asked him about serious allegations that a member of his administration was forcing state employees to give money to the governor's campaign.
"I don't know what story you're talking about... I've been visiting troops in Iraq and Kuwait," said Governor Steve Beshear. "When I return I'll look at whatever has gone on and look at facts, what I can tell you is that we always follow the law and we're going to continue to follow the law and take whatever appropriate action is necessary."'
Governor Steve Beshear traveled overseas this week missing the news of this letter. A letter that claims Charles Geveden, the Deputy Secretary of Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, called non-merit state employees and threatened their jobs if they did not contribute to Beshear's re-election campaign. Rodney Young, a 27 year state government employee, said he heard about these alleged calls in the workplace. He wrote the letter to the Republican Party of Kentucky, which then filed a complaint with the Attorney Generals' Office and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
"Sounds to me like it's the typical campaign type of stuff that you see every time you have a campaign that the other side comes up with all kinds of stuff to try to allege and we'll take a look at it like we always do," said Gov. Beshear.
Matt Erwin, a spokesperson for the Beshear-Abramson campaign, says the "Republican Party of Kentucky has filed a complaint based on unsubstantiated third party rumors" and it "should be treated as the desperate and baseless political stunt that it is." One employee listed in the letter denies getting a phone call. But two others confirm Geveden called them. Erwin says one of the calls was simply a follow up to a fundraiser invitations.
"No one can be put in the position to make a political contribution or continue his or her unemployment," said Attorney Thomas Clay.
Attorney Thomas Clay says that is the law plain and simple. No investigating agency has said there is any wrongdoing.
"My adminsitration and campaign strictly follow the campaign finance laws and we will continue to follow those laws," said Beshear.
Some employees listed in the letter donated money, others did not. But they are all still employed with the state.
Matt Erwin, spokesperson for the Beshear-Abramson campaign, sent WHAS 11 News this statement Monday and Tuesday: "48 hours after a poll was released showing the Williams-Farmer campaign down by 24 points, the Republican Party of Kentucky has filed a complaint based on unsubstantiated third party rumors. Nowhere in this complaint does the filer ever claim he was pressured by anyone to make a donation to a political campaign nor does he present any evidence that anyone was pressured to make a donation. Despite outspending his opponent on the airwaves, David Williams’ campaign is in free fall and has resorted to gutter politics.This complaint is based on gossip and should be treated as the desperate and baseless political stunt that it is.”
Charles Geveden has not returned WHAS 11 News' request to speak with him.