AG should step aside in UofL case

Attorneys are taught in law school that when a case comes before them that presents a conflict of interest, it is their duty and obligation to step aside and let another attorney handle the proceeding. This guarantees that fair representation is given to the clients and that there is no clear favoritism.

There could not be another case pending in our state that more clearly involves a total conflict of interest than Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s legal action against Gov. Matt Bevin over Bevin’s abolishing of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Beshear, who for the first six months of his term has repeatedly taken the Bevin administration to court, is arguing that Bevin can’t do this without the approval of the legislature.

While there are gray areas in the laws pertaining to this, we do know that Kentucky Revised Statute 12.028 specifically permits the governor to “create, alter, or abolish” executive branch boards and commissions.

Unfortunately, people who criticize Bevin fail to mention that for decades, previous Democratic and Republican governors used this statute to abolish and re-create various boards and commissions – 357 times in the past 25 years, including 103 times during the eight-year administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear, who is Andy Beshear’s father. This pattern and precedent could undermine Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Bevin.

It’s also worth mentioning an opinion from former Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in September that says the governor does have the authority to reorganize the Board of Trustees at UofL.

Beyond the fact that this statute exists and would on the surface show that Bevin does have legal authority, it is well known that members of this now-dissolved board were contributors to the campaigns of both Beshears. This is an obvious conflict of interest.

The former members of the board who Andy Beshear are representing are financial supporters of his political career. As attorney general, how could he not see this as a conflict of interest?

This isn’t Andy Beshear’s first run-in with a conflict of interest since becoming attorney general.

Several months ago, Andy Beshear announced he would prosecute his former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer, who also worked in Steve Beshear’s cabinet. Longmeyer was charged in a stunning bribery complaint filed by the U.S. attorney in Lexington.

Only after public pressure from media outlets and others citing a clear conflict of interest did Andy Beshear announce be would appoint a special prosecutor to the case.

Longmeyer has since pleaded guilty to the charges.

Andy Beshear was right to recuse himself in that case, although it took media pressure for him to do so. The UofL Board of Trustees case is somewhat similar, since Longmeyer and the trustees are and were financial supporters of the Beshears.

There is an obvious conflict of interest in this case, which is why we call on Andy Beshear to rescue himself and appoint a special prosecutor.

Bowling Green Daily News

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