Less than a day after the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Governor Steve Beshear organized a meeting between state pension fund representatives and his political supporters, the Republican Party of Kentucky is pouncing on the scandal. GOP Chairman Steve Robertson questioned why Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway has made no inquiry into the scandal, which involves managing the commonwealth’s multi-billion dollar pension funds for state and county employees.
“It is obvious that Steve Beshear’s administration has been far more worried about lining the pockets of political allies than the proper management and performance of state workers’ and state teachers’ retirement funds,” Robertson said in a news release. “Where is our attorney general on this? I know he’s busy with yet another campaign, but the governor is playing politics with the state’s pension funds and no one is safeguarding the people here.”
The newspaper confirmed the Beshear administration’s actions are under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and that the state auditor is finalizing a broad examination of KRS as a result.
From the Herald-Leader:
At least twice in recent years, Gov. Steve Beshear’s office called the Kentucky Retirement Systems to suggest meetings with two of the governor’s Democratic political supporters who were working on behalf of private investment companies.
Asked why the governor’s office would call KRS in these instances, Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said such calls are meant to be “referrals,” not endorsements intended to pressure state officials on anyone’s behalf.
“Every day, the governor’s office receives requests for information or offers of services, which are then routed to the appropriate agencies,” Richardson said. “The governor’s ultimate objective for the retirement system is the protection and growth of funds for the benefits of hundreds of thousands of current and retired public employees.”
Robertson also cast doubt on whether Conway could objectively and ethically investigate the matter, considering two of the individuals named in the scandal are the attorney general’s former campaign manager and a Democratic lobbyist who has raised money for Conway.
“The fox cannot watch the hen house here,” said Robertson, who urged the appointment of an independent prosecutor. “Jack Conway’s loyalty should be with the people, not with his politics.”