State worker denies claim of improper fundraising for Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A government employee seeking
whistle-blower status claimed in a letter released publicly Monday
that some state workers were threatened with termination unless
they contributed to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's re-election
campaign, but one of the people he mentioned has refuted the claim.
State psychologist Rodney Young, who works for the Department of Juvenile Justice in Louisville, made the accusation in letters to
Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson and Attorney General Jack Conway. In the letters, he listed more than a dozen colleagues he said had been solicited.
"He may have listed me, but it didn't happen," said Bob Hayer,
who oversees juvenile justice programs in the Cromwell area. "He
must have me confused with someone else."
Robertson released Young's letter on Monday, along with
complaints he filed with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and
the Registry of Election Finance.
Beshear spokesman Matt Erwin dismissed the claim as "gutter
politics," saying Young's complaint is based on "unsubstantiated
third party rumors."
Young said a Beshear aide in the Kentucky Justice Cabinet told
his colleagues last December that they could lose their jobs if
they don't contribute $500 each to the re-election campaign.
"I will be able to retire in March, so at this point in my
career, I simply wish to do what I can to expose and change the
pervasive practice of extorting political contributions from state
employees who should be under pressure to do one thing ... serve
the people of Kentucky to the best of their abilities," Young
wrote in the letter dated July 27.
Erwin pointed out that the letter and complaints were released a
day after a poll by The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV showed Beshear
leading Republican challenger David Williams by 24 percentage
points.
"Nowhere in this complaint does the filer ever claim he was
pressured by anyone to make a donation to a political campaign nor
does he present any evidence that anyone was pressured to make a
donation," Erwin said.
"This complaint is based on gossip and should be treated as the
desperate and baseless political stunt that it is," he said.
Robertson's formal complaints included Beshear's campaign
finance reports, which he said showed hundreds of state government
employees and their spouses having contributed more than $400,000.
State government employees can contribute to campaigns, but
under Kentucky law, political candidates can't solicit donations.
Those who do could face felony charges.
Based on Young's accusations, Robertson called on Beshear to
return all contributions he has received from state employees.
"These are very serious allegations that cannot be taken
lightly," Robertson said in a statement. "It is my hope that the
appropriate authorities will launch immediate and thorough
investigations. We all know the power and influence of the
governor's office. When that power is abused, it is the ultimate
violation of public trust."
Robertson called for investigations by the attorney general's
office, the ethics commission and the campaign finance agency.
Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin acknowledged Monday that Young's
letter had been received by the attorney general and that it is
being processed. She declined to comment further.
In the complaint to the ethics commission, Robertson called
Young's allegation "very disturbing" and said it would be both
criminal and unethical if proven.
Robertson said numerous state employees have privately
complained about being pressured to contribute to the Beshear
campaign. He said they refused to publicly report their concerns
for fear of retaliation.
"Many complainants said they felt their jobs, appointments or
contracts would be in jeopardy if they did not assist in raising
campaign money for Beshear," Robertson said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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