In a video attached to a tweet sent this afternoon, Governor Bevin accused Attorney General Andy Beshear of a conflict of interest in the UofL Foundation audit, and accused the Courier-Journal of covering up the conflict.
Here is the transcript of the video:
Hi, this is Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. I want to draw your attention to an “hypocrisy alert,” a “misinformation alert,” on behalf of the Courier Journal, as it relates to coverage of our Attorney General.
I don’t actually subscribe to the Courier-Journal, as I think you’re aware. It isn’t worth your money, if you do. But, you can get it for free online, if you’re so inclined. And here is a copy of this particular article, in which they say “Did UofL Foundation commit crimes? Attorney General says he is checking it out.”
Nowhere in this article, this great big flowing article by the esteemed Courier-Journal, do they mention the fact that the Attorney General—who probably doesn’t even have jurisdiction to check this out—they don’t mention the fact that he was partners with the lawyer who advised the Foundation on all the legal work they are now being investigated for.
And interestingly, you know who else is a partner there at that firm now? The Attorney General’s father, the former Governor.
If you don’t think this stinks to high heavens, you’re not paying attention. But you know who doesn’t care, you know who doesn’t think it stinks, who doesn’t even want you to take a smell at it? The Courier-Journal. Not a mention in there that the Attorney General, currently, came from this law firm where he was partners with the guy that he is now supposedly going to go “investigate.”
This kind of hypocrisy and silliness, this kind of coverage from this excuse for a newspaper, is exactly why I don’t take them seriously.
It should be noted that while Andy Beshear did work at the same law firm as David Saffer, the UofL Foundation lawyer, for a number of years, calling them “partners” is something of a stretch, since the firm (Stites and Harbison) has 260 lawyers.
It should also be noted that if the Attorney General decides to examine the Foundation audit to see if his office needs to get involved, it will be the AG staff that will do the work, and not Andy Beshear himself. The Governor seems to be saying that it is not possible for the AG staff to be impartial in their work if it involves any lawyer or client the AG ever worked with.
Is there a possibility for a conflict of interest in this matter? Certainly – just as there is in the Governor’s appointing someone to a state board who just sold the Governor a house. Perhaps the best approach would be to have a very strong and independent Ethics Commission that is appointed by various parts of state government, instead of an Ethics Commission that is appointed solely by the Governor.