1:53pm

Mon August 1, 2011
All Politics are Local

State Whistleblower Alleges Intimidation

A veteran state employee has alleged in a letter delivered to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office Monday that some government workers were threatened with termination if they did not contribute to Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign.

Rodney Young is a psychologist with the Department of Juvenile Justice and made the accusation in a letter dated July 27. Hoping to bring attention to “abuses of authority,” Young lists a dozen employees in the department who he alleges were threatened, adding an aide of the governor told his co-workers last year that they could lose their jobs if they didn’t give a $500 donation to Beshear’s re-election bid.

“In my 27 years in state government, I have never seen such an audacious and systematic approach to using state government as an arm to raise money for a political campaign,” Young wrote. “It is my hope that you will use the information in this letter to bring attention to this activity and to permanently separate public service from political solicitations.”

A Conway spokesperson says the attorney general’s office has received the complaint and will handle it according to their investigative protocol.

Young also sent a copy of the letter to Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson, who quickly sent out dual complaints to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (here) and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission (here). State law says political candidates and campaigns are strictly prohibited from soliciting any state government employee for contributions.

“We are well past the appearance of impropriety here,” Robertson said in a news release.  “These are very serious criminal allegations that cannot be taken lightly.  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 has alleged other state employees have privately complained about being pressured to donate to the governor’s re-election campaign and the GOP has outlined hundreds of workers and their spouses who have contributed in excess of $400,000 to the governor’s campaign.

In addition to filing the complaints, Robertson also called on Beshear to return all contributions from state government employees.

Asked about the accusation made in Young’s letter,  Beshear campaign spokesman Matt Erwin called it a political stunt to distract voters after Republican gubernatorial candidate DavidWilliams had a poor showing in a recent poll.

“Twenty-four hours after a poll was released showing the Williams-Farmer campaign down by 24 points, the Republican Party of Kentucky has filed a complaint based on unsubstantiated third party rumors. 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,” he says. “Despite outspending his opponent on the airwaves, David Williams’ campaign is in free fall and has resorted to gutter politics.This complaint is based on gossip and should be treated as the desperate and baseless political stunt that it is.”