Officials: FBI Investigating Highway Construction Projects

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - An engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says an FBI investigation of former Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration includes a review of how some highway construction projects were awarded.

Marcelyn Mathews, a Department of Highways engineer under both Fletcher and Gov. Steve Beshear, told The Courier-Journal she was questioned by the FBI about a month ago on whether the cabinet's confidential cost estimates for contracts were leaked to bidders before bids were submitted.

"They were asking if I gave it to somebody. And I didn't have it. I didn't," Mathews told the Louisville newspaper. "I never typically even look at them" until bids are opened.

Chuck Wolfe, a spokesman for the state Transportation Cabinet, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the cabinet "is cooperating with a federal investigation into the previous administration," but declined to elaborate.

"I can't say anything beyond that," he said.

Transportation Secretary Joe Prather said Tuesday in a brief statement to The Courier-Journal that the FBI has sought "certain information" for its investigation into the previous administration, but declined to discuss details.

"We've been asked not to comment," he said. "I am willing to acknowledge that the investigation is ongoing, but beyond that we cannot appropriately comment."

David Beyer, spokesman for the FBI in Kentucky, says Justice Department policy prevents him from either confirming or denying an investigation.

Howard Mann, attorney for Fletcher's Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, told the Lexington Herald-Leader he hadn't been contacted by investigators about any investigation.

Marc Williams, state highway commissioner under Fletcher, declined to say if he was aware of the investigation or whether the FBI had contacted him. He told the Louisville newspaper he was not aware of any estimates released inappropriately or prematurely.

Gilbert Newman, the current state highway engineer, said knowing the engineer's estimate before submitting a bid could be valuable if the bidder expected to have no competition for the contract.

In those cases, a bidder would know he could bid as high as 7 percent more than the engineer's estimate and still receive the contract, he said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Southern Girl Location: Williamsburg KY on Apr 9, 2008 at 06:19 PM
    Someone needs to check on the huge road project in Williamsburg, Bill Nighberts home town, and see how those contracts were awarded. Seems like an awfully large project for such a small town. Hmmmmm.....
  • by steve on Apr 9, 2008 at 06:10 PM
    Yea i would look at the Dems for the last 40 years i am sure that lots of money went around nudge nudge wink wink.
  • by ghettochip Location: richmond on Apr 9, 2008 at 01:11 PM
    how would this investigation bring money to the democratic party, herewegoagain? i am not understanding your logic. Perhaps government on all levels should be under some kind of an investigation. seems they are all crooked.
  • by Mike Location: Ca on Apr 9, 2008 at 12:14 PM
    Why is it that when a politician is being investigated, kool aid kooks scream "but (insert name of OTHER politician here) did this... Even a FOOL has heard of TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT!! Stop thinking Republican or Democrat is GOOD or BAD. Think for yourself and look at what the person is doing with YOUR MONEY!!!
  • by Terri Location: east KY on Apr 9, 2008 at 11:30 AM
    Lets hope that investigation includes Knott County.
  • by angelfire on Apr 9, 2008 at 10:04 AM
    Why don't they look into the hundreds of unfinished fuel tank sites left unmitigated by the Patton administration. Where did the super fund money go, Paul? How many lives were damaged when Patton did nothing but spend? As far as highway awards, Patton handed out thousnads of gigantic checks and bigger promises yet a roadway project in our area was to begin in 1999. At least Fletcher started getting it built last year.
  • by Herewegoagain Location: London on Apr 9, 2008 at 08:10 AM
    I wonder if these contracts are in strong Republican counties????Looks like Stevie is looking for more money to pay for his party....


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