- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said he will prosecute his former deputy in state court one day after a newspaper reported the deputy had illegally funneled thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Beshear’s 2014 campaign.

Court documents unsealed Tuesday at the request of the Lexington Herald-Leader reveal former deputy attorney general Tim Longmeyer had arranged for illegal campaign donations to Beshear’s campaign for attorney general and Jack Conway’s campaign for governor.

An affidavit from FBI agent James R. Huggins published by the newspaper said Lexington-based MC Squared Consulting paid employees to make the donations and later reimbursed them. Huggins also said Longmeyer funneled some of the bribe money into political campaigns under other people’s names.

The FBI affidavit also said Longmeyer schemed with MC Squared to get kickbacks in exchange for help securing lucrative contracts with two insurers. Longmeyer pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in federal court last month. Samuel McIntosh, the company’s owner, has not been charged. His listed phone numbers are disconnected.

Records show Beshear received at least three $1,000 donations and Conway received at least two $1,000 donations.

Conway lost the election to Republican Matt Bevin. But Beshear won, and when he took office he appointed Longmeyer as his deputy. In recorded phone conversations, the FBI agent said McIntosh told Longmeyer he expected the scheme to continue once Longmeyer took the job in the attorney general’s office. However, Huggins wrote the investigation “has given no reason to believe that Andrew Beshear and Jack Conway were aware of this scheme or the illegal sources of the funds contributed their campaigns.”

Beshear said again Wednesday that he knew nothing of Longmeyer’s crimes and said he was preparing to file state charges against him, a move he said would not pose a conflict for his office but questioned by Republicans given Beshear’s close working relationship with Longmeyer. Beshear said he would use the same process used against former Republican state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who went to prison for violating state ethics and campaign finance laws.

“Thank God, though, for the U.S. Attorney and for the FBI,” Beshear told reporters on Wednesday, adding that without their investigation “Longmeyer could have done real damage in the Attorney General’s office.”

Huggins’ affidavit also says Longmeyer made sure McIntosh was paid “in the form of a disguised payment from the Andrew Beshear campaign.” Huggins said McIntosh called potential voters for Beshear. Longmeyer directed someone to “repackage” MC Squared charges as a bill coming from another company and send it to Beshear’s campaign for payment. Huggins said campaign records show Beshear’s campaign received a bill and paid it, but the details have been redacted from the affidavit.

Beshear said Wednesday that his campaign paid a Louisville company for “get out the vote” efforts in Jefferson County. He said Huggins’ affidavit suggests Beshear’s campaign was “the victim of criminal activity.”

“I now question whether anything was done pursuant to that expenditure whatsoever,” Beshear said. “If it wasn’t, that’s what you call stealing.”

Before he worked for Beshear, Longmeyer worked for Beshear’s father, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Last month, Bevin, the Republican governor, accused Steve Beshear of coercing state employees to donate to Democratic political campaigns and causes. Bevin said he would hire a private law firm to investigate and he called for Andy Beshear to return any suspected campaign contributions.

The younger Beshear said he would “not return money to criminals” but did promise to donate the balance of his campaign account to Common Cause, a government watchdog group, once the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance completes an audit.

Beshear has said any investigation by Bevin would not be credible. But he said there was no conflict for him to prosecute his former deputy. Republicans disagreed.

“How can Kentuckians be expected to trust Andy Beshear to conduct an unbiased and impartial investigation into accusations so intimately linked to close political allies, his father’s administration and his own campaign and official office,” said Tres Watson, spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky.

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Claire Galofaro contributed reporting from Louisville, Kentucky.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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