- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A top regulator from Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has resigned as a director of Kentucky’s major Republican super PAC after a newspaper inquired about potential conflicts in holding both roles.

K. Gail Russell resigned Wednesday as director of the super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, The Courier-Journal reported (https://cjky.it/1XzM1gU).

Russell is the deputy secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, overseeing banking, insurance, horse racing and other business.

Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause of Kentucky, said Tuesday that a top official who regulates companies that historically have been big donors to political campaigns shouldn’t also run a super PAC.

“That cabinet oversees so many different areas,” Beliles said. “I think she’s got to give up one job or the other. I think it’s a conflict.”

Jessica Ditto, a spokeswoman for Bevin’s office, said Russell wasn’t obligated to resign from the super PAC board, but did so in order to prevent any suspicions of there being a conflict of interest.

“Gail decided to go ahead and resign, which was her choice,” Kentuckians for Strong Leadership Treasurer Michael Adams said in a statement. “There was no legal or ethical problem with her serving but she apparently decided it would be best for her to fully devote her time to public service.”

Russell has been active in the Republican Party for years. She was one of three directors who in 2013 founded Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, which raised and spent about $7.7 million in its independent campaign to get Sen. Mitch McConnell re-elected.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com


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