The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

State Employee Shakedowns in Kentucky?


At the moment, the outlook for Republicans in the Kentucky governor’s face looks pretty grim:

Gov. Steve Beshear holds a commanding 24-point lead over his challenger, Senate President David Williams, in Kentucky’s governor’s race, according to the latest Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll.

The poll found that Beshear leads Williams 52 percent to 28 percent and that the incumbent governor is ahead in all but three demographic areas. Independent Gatewood Galbraith is a distant third with 9 percent of the vote.

Conducted by SurveyUSA, the poll is based on computerized and live telephone interviews carried out from July 22– to 27. It includes the responses of 512 likely voters in the Nov. 8 governor’s race and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

That was the news Sunday; today brings a development that may well shake up the race:

A veteran state employee has alleged in a letter delivered to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office Monday that some government workers were threatened with termination if they did not contribute to Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign.

Rodney Young is a psychologist with the Department of Juvenile Justice and made the accusation in a letter dated July 27. Hoping to bring attention to “abuses of authority,” Young lists a dozen employees in the department who he alleges were threatened, adding an aide of the governor told his co-workers last year that they could lose their jobs if they didn’t give a $500 donation to Beshear’s re-election bid.

“In my 27 years in state government, I have never seen such an audacious and systematic approach to using state government as an arm to raise money for a political campaign,” Young wrote. “It is my hope that you will use the information in this letter to bring attention to this activity and to permanently separate public service from political solicitations.”

A Conway spokesperson says the attorney general’s office has received the complaint and will handle it according to their investigative protocol.

Note the complaint predates the poll.

You remember Jack Conway; he’s the Democratic Senate candidate who accused of Rand Paul of Aqua Buddha in a late ad last year – an ad called “ugly” and “demagogic” by notable right-wingers like, er, Ezra Klein. Yes, this is precisely the fellow who I want investigating allegations of election shenanigans on the part of Democratic candidates.

UPDATE: Hmmm. A pattern?

Dr. Patrick Sheridan confirmed to Pure Politics that this winter he received a phone call to his unlisted home number from Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Charles Geveden, who asked him to write a $1,000 check to Beshear’s campaign.

Sheridan said he wrote a $500 check to the Beshear campaign with a note attached. The note said the check was being written in response to a personal call from Geveden.

Some time later, his check was returned in the mail, Sheridan said.

Sheridan is a long-time non-merit employee in the cabinet. His name was one of 13 listed in a letter from another Justice Cabinet employee alleging strong-arm tactics by Geveden. Dr. Rodney Young sent that letter to the Republican Party of Kentucky, which has asked for an investigation.

It is against state law for an administration to target appointed state workers for political fundraising unless those solicitations are made “as part of an overall plan to contact voters not identified as state employees,” the law says.

Tags: David Williams , Jack Conway , Kentucky , Steve Beshear


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