Steve Beshear

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

The FBI is conducting an antitrust investigation into contractors working on road and construction projects with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

First reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the cabinet recently issued a notice for all contractors who work with the state to preserve contract data as a result of the investigation.

Cabinet employees are also required to preserve all data relating to state contracts dating back to 2010 — which means the scope of the investigation will include contracts made under Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, as well as former Gov. Steve Beshear’s, who left office in 2015.

Stephen George

After President Donald Trump cited Gov. Matt Bevin’s claim that the Affordable Care Act is “unsustainable and collapsing” in Kentucky during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear delivered the official Democratic response: Don’t dismantle Obamacare.

“You and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who most need it,” Beshear said during his speech, which was broadcast from a diner in Lexington.

“Does the Affordable Care Act need some repairs? Sure it does,” Beshear said. “But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.”

Democrats have tapped former Governor  Steve Beshear to deliver the party's response to President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, highlighting the Kentucky Democrat's efforts to expand health care coverage under the law Republicans are determined to repeal and replace.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the announcement on Friday in which they also turned to immigration activist Astrid Silva to give the Spanish language response to Trump's speech. Silva is a so-called Dreamer who came to the country at the age of five as an illegal immigrant.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has released a report alleging “endemic” coercion of state employees to make campaign contributions under former Gov. Steve Beshear.

The investigation is based on interviews with 16 political appointees — who remained anonymous — claiming that officials pressured them into make contributions to Democratic political candidates, primarily to the campaigns of gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway and Attorney General Andy Beshear.

The probe, conducted by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, construes that the practice was widespread across state government.

Office of Ky Governor

A $500,000 contract awarded by Kentucky's Republican governor to investigate his Democratic predecessor has survived a challenge in a state legislative committee.

Democrats on the Government Contract Review Committee failed to muster the five votes required to recommend canceling the contract, awarded to an Indiana law firm. It likely would not have mattered, as lawmakers can only recommend that the governor cancel the contract. Ultimately, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration has the final decision.

Bevin announced his intention to investigate former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear earlier this year, saying his staff had found numerous examples of corruption. The two governors have clashed over public pensions and health care policy since Bevin took office.

Democrats say the investigation will not be impartial because several of the attorneys hired have ties to the Republican Party.

Bevin Approves Contract to Probe Beshear Administration

Aug 2, 2016
Alix Mattingly

Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has approved a contract of up to $500,000 to an Indiana law firm to investigate his Democratic predecessor's administration.

According to media reports, the two-year contract was awarded to the Indianapolis office of the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. The contract says the firm will investigate possible violations of state spending rules and possible coercion of state workers for campaign donations.

Last spring, Bevin announced that his Finance and Administration Cabinet would oversee an investigation of what he called a "pay-to-play" method of conducting business during Beshear's administration. Beshear, who left office late last year after serving two terms, has said Bevin's accusations "have absolutely no basis in truth."

The Lexington Herald-Leader first reported the awarding of the contract.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Former Gov. Steve Beshear has accused Gov. Matt Bevin of coercing state employees into helping pay off his campaign debt.

The allegations come a week after Bevin claimed that members of Beshear’s administration coerced state employees into making campaign contributions to Democrats.

Beshear said Bevin “started this food fight.”

“… By calling us liars, by criticizing my wife, and now by ginning up a political investigation to try and sully our reputation,” he said.

The feud extends back to when Bevin criticized Beshear’s appointment of then-First Lady Jane Beshear to the Kentucky Horse Park Commission.

Since then, the two governors have lobbed accusations at one another. Bevin has blamed Beshear for leaving the state in a “financial crisis,” creating the glitches in the new health benefit portal Benefind and shaking down state employees for campaign contributions.

Jacob Ryan

Gov. Matt Bevin has launched an investigation into potential corruption under former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration.

In a press conference Tuesday, Bevin alleged state employees were coerced into contributing to Democratic political campaigns, including those of Attorney General Andy Beshear and Bevin’s opponent in the governor’s race, former Attorney General Jack Conway.

Bevin said employees have come forward and said they were “essentially coerced” into making contributions and “they complied of fear of loss of their jobs or other retribution.”

“We have learned from many rank-and-file employees of closed-door demands by high level Beshear administration officials that they make contributions to Democratic candidates in the last election,” Bevin said.

Former Gov. Beshear’s secretary of the Personnel Cabinet, Tim Longmeyer, is currently under investigation for a kickback scheme that allegedly directed state contracts to a consulting firm in exchange for campaign donations and cash.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Before landing a $3.1 million no-bid state contract on Gov. Steve Beshear’s last day in office, the software company that counts a former Beshear cabinet secretary’s husband as a “partner” had already received $8.1 million worth of state business outside of the competitive bidding process.

SAS Institute, a Cary, N.C., technology company, was hired in 2012 to develop a fraud-detection system for Kynect, the state-owned health insurance exchange. It didn’t have to bid for a state contract of its own. Instead, according to Kentucky Finance & Administration Cabinet records, it piggybacked into the job through a “modification” of the main contract with Deloitte Consulting.

As the arrangement was taking shape, one man — Frank Lassiter of Midway, Ky. — had connections on both sides. For SAS, he had just begun serving as one of more than 1,000 technology “partners” listed on its website. For the Beshear administration, Lassiter was executive director of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of Administrative and Technology Services until 2011. His wife, Mary Lassiter, was state budget director before being named secretary of Beshear’s Executive Cabinet in 2009. Both contributed money to Beshear’s re-election campaign in 2011.

Jessica Ditto, spokeswoman for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, said the governor’s office is weighing the possibility that political — and marital — connections paved the way for SAS.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s efforts to reshape the state’s approach to the Affordable Care Act have led to a political battle of governors unprecedented in recent state history.

On Thursday, former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, launched a political nonprofit organization to advocate for key policies implemented by his administration, which ended in December. Those policies included an expansion of Medicaid and the creation of a state health insurance exchange, called Kynect.

Both policies are being threatened by Bevin’s administration, which is seeking to add new stipulations to Medicaid enrollment and to dismantle Kynect, instead sending Kentuckians to the federal health care exchange.

Beshear’s new group is called Save Kentucky Healthcare, a 501c(4) organization.

“Save Kentucky Healthcare is committed to continuing Kentucky’s dramatic success in expanding health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Now, why? Because it’s working,” Beshear said during a news conference Thursday in Louisville.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons

Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear says he is starting an advocacy group to oppose Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s plans to dismantle the state’s health insurance exchange, Kynect, and scale back its Medicaid expansion.

Beshear is scheduled to announce “Save Kentucky Healthcare” during events in Louisville and Lexington on Thursday. In a news release, Beshear said he is troubled by Bevin’s plans to roll back what he called Kentucky’s nation-leading progress in improving the health of its people.

Beshear left office in December. During his eight years in office, he expanded Kentucky’s Medicaid program and created a state-operated health insurance exchange where eligible Kentuckians could purchase discounted private health insurance plans. He did so under the Affordable Care Act.

Bevin criticized both programs as too expensive. He says he will dismantle Kynect by the end of the year and is trying to replace the Medicaid expansion with a different program.

As his term ends, Gov. Steve Beshear has issued 201 pardons to people convicted in Kentucky of a variety of offenses, including several sent to prison for drug crimes or for committing crimes against abusive partners.

Beshear also granted six commutations, reducing a sentence to time already served in jail.

He leaves office at midnight, when incoming Gov. Matt Bevin officially takes office. Bevin will be ceremonially sworn in on Tuesday.

Beshear said he received more than 3,400 requests for pardons that he and his staff reviewed for several months.

Office of Ky Governor

Gov. Steve Beshear will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to non-violent felons in Kentucky who have completed their sentences.

Beshear made the announcement Tuesday in Frankfort. The executive order excludes people convicted of bribery, sex crimes or treason, he said.

“The right to vote is one of the most intrinsically American privileges, and thousands of Kentuckians are living, working and paying taxes in the state but are denied this basic right,” said Beshear, a Democrat. “Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens. A key part of that transition is the right to vote.”

Beshear said the executive order will make about 180,000 Kentuckians eligible to vote.

iStockPhoto

Kentucky businesses will save about $165 million on federal unemployment taxes after state officials paid off a close to a billion dollar federal loan early.  

Gov Steve Beshear says the Commonwealth has paid off the $972 million federal loan needed to meet unemployment insurance benefit obligations during the Great Recession at least two years ahead of schedule.

The early payoff means employers will see a reduction of $105 per employee.   

Creative Commons

More Kentuckians are insured, protected from second-hand smoke and making healthier lifestyle choices, according to a recently released preliminary report on Gov. Steve Beshear’s kyhealthnow initiative.

The initiative was created to achieve by 2019 seven major health goals on issues ranging from insurance rates to obesity.

The  Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services  set the goal of reducing the state’s uninsured rate to 5 percent or less. With the implementation of Kynect and the expansion of Medicaid, Kentucky’s uninsured rate is currently 9.8 percent.

Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, the state’s public health commissioner, said she’s optimistic that the goal will be reached.

“If we continue to do what we’re currently doing, we feel that we’ll get there because in a year or so we’ve taken it down to 9.8 percent from a baseline in 2013 of 20.4 percent,” she said.

Although, the proposed smoking ban bill passed the House earlier this year, its future looks grim. And so does the future of the proposed heroin bill.

But, Mayfield said, “the session is not over yet.”

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