- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A document unsealed in federal court on Friday accuses former Kentucky Personnel Secretary Timothy Longmeyer of taking more than $200,000 in kickbacks during his time in office.

Longmeyer “engaged in an extensive fraud, money laundering, bribery and kickback scheme” while in the high-ranking state job, said U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey at a news conference in Lexington.

The kickbacks were given in exchange for the Democratic appointee’s help in securing multimillion-dollar contracts for a public relations consulting firm, allowing the firm to work with insurance companies that provide health care coverage to state employees, Harvey said.

“This is an important case, which no doubt will be of considerable public interest,” Harvey said. “We take no joy in this announcement however, because the alleged misconduct represents a serious betrayal of the public trust.”

Harvey declined to identify the consulting firm and said the investigation is ongoing.

Longmeyer in his former position as personnel secretary oversaw the $1.8 billion Kentucky Employees Health Plan. Longmeyer “abused his authority over” the health plan to persuade Humana and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to hire and pay the consulting firm for “group testing and telephone surveys,” according to an FBI affidavit attached to the criminal complaint. The firm laundered the proceeds from those contracts through a series of transactions into cash and straw contributions, which came from third parties who wrote contribution checks to political candidates chosen by Longmeyer, according to the document, which was written by FBI Special Agent James Huggins. It said the consulting firm recruited others, including employees of the firm, to write campaign contribution checks to state office candidates in their own names and they were reimbursed for those donations.

The activity went on without the knowledge of Humana and Anthem, Harvey said. Humana paid a total of $2 million to the consulting firm from October 2011 to December 2014, the affidavit said.

A confidential informant who worked at the consulting company provided information about the scheme, Harvey said.

Longmeyer received approximately $203,500 in cash and the straw campaign contributions, Harvey said.

Longmeyer resigned from the cabinet on Sept. 30. He was appointed a deputy in state Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office in December, but Beshear said Friday that Longmeyer resigned this week for personal reasons. Beshear said he was first told Friday of the criminal complaint.

In an interview with the AP in his Capitol office in Frankfort, Beshear said he had no knowledge of money from the alleged kickback scheme being steered to his campaign last year.

“Would I be surprised if it came to my campaign? No.” Beshear said. “And if we find out that we received contributions that are in any way related to this, we’ll deal with it.”

As deputy attorney general, Longmeyer served as second-in-command in the office. His roles included serving as a chief administrator for the 215-member office. Beshear said he hired Longmeyer because “Tim was experienced and he had a reputation for honesty and being a straight shooter, and that’s what makes today’s news hard to swallow.”

Beshear, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, said he was assured that “this office is in no way implicated, nor is anybody else in this office implicated.”

Longmeyer worked in former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration from 2011 and 2014. That overlaps Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign in 2011 and the state House elections in 2014, where Democrats maintained their eight-seat majority despite losing in a landslide in the U.S. Senate race.

Steve Beshear said he was “shocked and dismayed by the allegations” against Longmeyer.

“This is obviously a surprise, and we await the outcome of the judicial process,” the former governor said in a statement Friday.

Longmeyer is charged with bribery concerning a federally funded program. He has received a court summons and is due in court next month. He will not be brought into custody before his April 20 hearing.

Longmeyer didn’t immediately respond to a cellphone message left by The Associated Press.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s office declined comment on the charges.

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Reporters Bruce Schreiner and Adam Beam contributed to this report from Frankfort, Kentucky.

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