- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Latest on Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s investigation into his Democratic predecessor (all times local):

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2:30 p.m.

Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has called Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s investigation of his procurement practices a “pathetic spectacle” and says the accusations have no basis in truth.

Bevin accused Beshear on Tuesday of issuing no-bid contracts to benefit friends and forcing state workers to make political donations. Bevin said he will hire a private law firm and give it subpoena power to help the Finance Cabinet investigate the allegations.

Beshear said he never forced employees to donate to political campaigns and said he followed the spirit and letter of procurement laws. He said Bevin’s investigation is an attempt to distract people from his own administration’s problems. And he noted Bevin has refused to release his personal tax returns. Beshear released his tax returns while he was governor.

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1:30 p.m.

Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General says Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision to hire a private law firm to help investigate his predecessor is overstepping his authority under state law.

Bevin announced Tuesday he will hire a private law firm to assist the Finance Cabinet in investigating potentially illegal procurement practices by former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, Steve Beshear’s son, says the Executive Branch Ethics Commission should be the one to examine any allegations of wrongdoing.

Bevin also is calling on Andy Beshear to return campaign contributions from Tim Longmeyer, a former official in Steve Beshear’s administration who is facing federal bribery charges. Andy Beshear says he did not know of Longmeyer’s activities and plans to donate any left over money from his campaign to Common Cause, a government watchdog group.

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12:30 p.m.

Kentucky’s Republican governor says he will hire a private law firm to investigate his Democratic predecessor for what he says were potentially illegal procurement practices.

Gov. Matt Bevin said in a news conference Tuesday that former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration forced state workers to make political donations, issued no-bid contracts to benefit friends and improperly awarded benefits to volunteer firefighters.

Bevin says the law firm will have the power to subpoena witnesses and records. Representatives for Beshear did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcement escalates the political war between the two administrations. Beshear started a nonprofit to criticize Bevin’s health care policies. And Beshear’s son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, has sued Bevin over his mid-year budget cuts. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Thursday.

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