LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Former Gov. Steve Beshear went on the attack Wednesday, picking apart allegations made earlier this month by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Beshear defended his administration and his family, calling Bevin a bully and accusing him of using his position to intimidate people who did not contribute to his campaign. The former governor said Bevin has a history of bullying people to get his way, while refusing to answer tough questions. He said Bevin is "petty" and "vindictive."
Beshear said Bevin's attack stemmed from him speaking out against Bevin's plan to strip health insurance from Kentuckians. Beshear, speaking to reporters, friends have told him to ignore him. But the former governor said Bevin has bullied the legislators, the media and organizations that rely on state funding.
"But he's not going to get away with bullying me," he said.
Beshear said corrosive partisanship is tearing apart the country, and Bevin has deployed similar tactics in Frankfort. Bevin, he said, needs to stop campaigning and start being a governor.
It's understandable that people are "afraid to speak out against a governor that's a bully," Beshear said.
The people who worked for him, did solid work and Beshear said he would not let Bevin soil their or his reputations.
Beshear then discussed Tim Longmeyer, the former head of Kentucky's Personnel Cabinet, under Beshear. Longmeyer pleaded guilty earlier this month in a conspiracy that involved bribery, money laundering and more than $200,000 in kickbacks from 2014 to 2015. He also directed $6,000 in "straw campaign contributions" to various political campaigns for a total of $203,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
However, Beshear said when you operate an organization with 33,000 employees, there will be some people who do not follow the rules.
"Obviously, if we had any inkling of his criminal actions" he would have been fired on the spot, Beshear said. He added that he never made any attempt to coerce anyone into giving political contributions.
"His administration is quickly becoming an expert on coercion," he said. Beshear said Bevin has fired people who contributed to Democratic campaigns and said the governor has taken action against people who speak out against him.
He accused us of pay to play politics. He said Bevin is using people to pay off debt from his campaign.
Beshear said that maybe Bevin sees the current attorney general, his son Andy Beshear, as a threat -- someone who might run for governor in four years. Or maybe he's just a bully, he said.
"Enough's enough," Beshear said.
Gov. Bevin's Communication Director, Jessica Ditto released the following statement in response to Beshear's news conference.
“After a top level appointment of both him and his son pleaded guilty to federal bribery last week, former Governor Beshear is merely trying to protect what is left of his legacy," Dito said. "Every wild, baseless accusation he has attempted to levy is not corroborated by any facts whatsoever. “Governor Bevin is focused on the job the people of Kentucky elected him to do, which is to restore fiscal responsibility and create economic opportunity. He will let the investigation take its course and has said all he intends to say about this matter.”
Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson said Beshear didn't have any evidence to back up his claims.
"Steve Beshear was pressed for any sort of specific instance or any sort of specific example. He was unable to do so. This is a governor who is desperate to keep the misdeeds of himself, his party for more than 50 years in Frankfort in the shadows. They want to keep Kentuckians in the dark as to how they operated their government, how taxpayer dollars were used," Watson said.