Daniel Cameron Violates Ethics Laws In Run for Governor
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 12, 2022) – The Kentucky Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Thursday for violating clear ethics laws and rulings that prohibit him from using his current office to target a political opponent.
Cameron, in repeatedly initiating baseless, unfounded investigations of Gov. Andy Beshear, knowingly violated Executive Branch Ethics Commission rulings that Kentucky officials cannot use their public office to target current or future political opponents. Gov. Beshear’s office even informed Cameron, who hired senior staff members who worked for former governor Matt Bevin and knew about the ethical perils and had supported the ethical prohibitions, that his politically motivated investigations would run afoul of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
The initial ruling from Executive Branch Ethics dates back to Attorney General Greg Stumbo and Governor Ernie Fletcher’s time in office, and was affirmed during Attorney General Beshear and Governor Matt Bevin tenures.
The KDP filed the complaint today based on the law and two clear ethics rulings that stated an attorney general that investigated a governor’s administration could not then run against that governor without violating the law.
KDP Chair Colmon Elridge released the following statement on Daniel Cameron using his office to target political opponents and on his campaign for governor:
“While Andy Beshear utilized the attorney general’s office to protect Kentuckians, to fight the opioid epidemic, arrest record numbers of child predators, protect seniors from scams and create a sexual assault cold case unit — Daniel Cameron is using public office and public resources to target political opponents. Those resources should be used to protect the people of Kentucky – not to prepare for an election. Cameron spent more time and resources going after a Democratic governor than he did investigating Matt Bevin for pardoning hundreds of criminals including those whose family contributed to Bevin’s campaign.
“Andy Beshear is one of the most popular governors in the country because he works for Kentuckians, with strong leadership that is taking Kentucky from difficult years of a pandemic and devastating storms into record breaking economic development that is creating more opportunities for our families. With Daniel Cameron’s weak record on protecting Kentucky children, seniors and survivors and him politicizing his office, Kentucky voters will have a clear choice next November if he emerges from the messy Republican primary.”
The Kentucky General Assembly made it unlawful for a public officer to “use or attempt to use his influence in any matter which involves a substantial conflict between his personal or private interest and his duties in the public interest…” KRS 11A.020(1)(a).
Over nearly two decades, this Ethics Commission has unequivocally stated – on three separate occasions – that an attorney general is prohibited from investigating a sitting governor against whom the attorney general was a political opponent or “…had intentions of becoming a political opponent in a future election…” (Advisory Opinion 17-07)
In 2017, then-Attorney General Beshear sought Ethics Commission’s guidance when confronted with the question of whether investigating the governor would create a conflict of interest/ethics violation should he run for governor in 2019. (Advisory Opinion 17-07). The Ethics Commission advised then-Attorney General Beshear that if the Attorney General is unwilling to affirmatively state he will not run for governor, then the Attorney General must refer any potential investigation of the sitting Governor to other, independent, law enforcement agencies.
The commission opinion stated “If you intend to run for the office of governor in the 2019 election cycle, in line with its advice given in Advisory Opinion 03-05 and 06-16, then the Commission will advise you to refer any potential investigations of the current Governor to other law enforcement agencies over which you do not exercise control as the Attorney General… if you do not wish to declare at this time whether or not you will run for the office of governor during the 2019 election cycle, but you intend to have your office conduct the investigation, you will risk violating the ethics code the day you seek to run for that office”
Daniel Cameron violated the ethics code the day he filed to run for governor.