Kentucky gubernatorial candidates hit with ethics complaints

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August 4, 2011

Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Kentucky:

In the latest spate of pre-election mudslinging to hit the Kentucky governor's race, both Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear and Republican State Senate President David Williams have been accused of campaign ethics violations by their opponent's party.

According to Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson, Beshear pressured state employees for campaign donations, while Williams is accused of not reporting gambling profits on a financial disclosure form. Both accusations have become official complaints with the Kentucky executive and legislative branch ethics committees.[1]

The complaint against Beshear stems from a letter delivered to Robertson by one Dr. Rodney Young, an employee of the state's Department of Juvenile Justice. Young's letter claims that Charles Geveden, a Beshear aide, "pressured him and other employees for contributions to Beshear's re-election campaign."[2] Beshear has also had to contend with a December 2010 CNHI News story that suggested politically appointed state employees felt pressured to attend a Christmastime fundraiser in Frankfort.[2] Kentucky Democratic leadership has called the charges against the governor baseless and politically motivated.

The Democratic Party's counter-complaint against Williams, filed hours after the complaint against Beshear, alleges he failed to report $5,000 in gambling income on campaign financial disclosure forms in 2002. Williams' campaign has not issued an official response, but he has said he didn't think gambling winnings needed to be reported.[3] John Schaaf, the Legislative Ethics Commission's general counsel, that the commission has never issued any opinions about whether such earnings need to be reported.

Williams's complaint against Beshear may have come as part of an effort to boost the Republican's flagging standing in the polls; Williams trails his opponent by an alarming 24 points, according to a July Courier-Journal/WHAS11 poll.[4] It remains to be seen whether Beshear's standing will suffer, or if the Democratic counter-attack against Williams will take a stronger hold.

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