LEXINGTON -- Attorney General Andy Beshear is exploring whether he has the authority to investigate details surrounding the purchase of a Jefferson County house where Gov. Matt Bevin's family now lives.
In a May 17 letter to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, Chief Deputy Attorney General J. Michael Brown called Bevin's actions "a gross example of pay-to-play" and asked for an advisory opinion on whether his office can investigate Bevin without creating a conflict of interest.
"This is one of the worst cases of personal enrichment by a governor," Beshear said in a written statement Wednesday. "News reports suggest he is personally enriching himself and his friends, getting a Louisville mansion at half the price from a state contractor, donor and political appointee, and giving his best friend a $250,000 job. Because the governor refuses to be direct and honest, someone must investigate."
Last month, The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that Bevin's family had moved into a house recently purchased by Anchorage Place LLC. State business registration documents do not say who owns Anchorage Place LLC and Bevin has refused to identify the owner.
The house was sold at what appears to be a discounted price by a company called The Anchorage LLC, which is owned by Louisville businessman Neil Ramsey. Ramsey has donated to Bevin's political campaigns and was appointed by Bevin to the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
Ramsey also is a board member of eBridge, a Louisville company that was awarded a contract under former Gov. Steve Beshear to help state government procure supplies. Ramsey owns at least 5 percent of the company or a $10,000 share in the company, according to a financial disclosure statement he filed with the state.
"The governor was not aware of the existence of eBridge or this contract" until the Herald-Leader asked about it earlier this month, said Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for Bevin, in a statement provided to the newspaper on May 10.
Ramsey told the Courier-Journal that he does not know who owns Anchorage Place LLC. State government, however, began adding security improvements to the house months before it was sold, according to the Courier-Journal.
Bevin has said there was nothing inappropriate about the sale of the house and that it did not create any conflict of interest.
Ramsey has said the house was sold at a fair price and that the property is overvalued by the Jefferson County PVA.
Beshear also expressed concern that the Bevin administration has hired two people in recent weeks who will be making about $250,000 annually. In particular, he cited the hiring of Vivek Sarin, a Shelbyville businessman who is a friend of Bevin, to improve the state's workforce development strategies.
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