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Former State Official Describes Political Favors, Gets Probation

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former state highway official who was
sentenced to probation on Friday had described to prosecutors last
year what he considered to be political improprieties in the
Transportation Cabinet.
Sam Beverage, who served briefly as state highway engineer, said
in a statement dated Nov. 11, 2006, and released after his
sentencing that Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration used highway
funds as political leverage, including a fund that the secretary of
transportation has sole discretion over.
"This fund is where the real politics is played," Beverage
charged. "Political favors are given to party supporters and to
legislators that vote favorably with the administration. There's a
computer listing of all the project requests in the commissioner's
office that could easily be traced to political favors. This fund
is essentially a large campaign chest and is used accordingly."
Jodi Whitaker, spokeswoman for Fletcher, didn't immediately
return a call seeking comment.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate sentenced Beverage
to serve two years probation for his guilty plea to a misdemeanor
count of official misconduct and ordered him to pay a $500 fine.
His sentencing wraps up a two-year investigation into charges of
political patronage by the Fletcher administration.
Beverage was originally charged with felony perjury for
allegedly lying to the special grand jury that investigated charges
that the Fletcher administration illegally rewarded political
supporters with protected state jobs.
In his statement to prosecutors, Beverage also said bond
revenues to pay for highway projects were used for political
purposes.
"The original list of potential projects was submitted to the
governor and he personally selected the projects to be funded,"
Beverage said. "The governor asked that each senator's name be
placed alongside each project that was in their district. Projects
were then selected for those senators that voted for the governor's
programs."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-06-29-07 1222EDT


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