State subpoenaes lawyers seeking info from Bevin’s term

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Responding to an FOI request, political gamesmanship, or all the above? Those are the questions and more with news subpoenas have been issued to lawyers who worked with former Gov. Matt Bevin to obtain documents related to some of his most-publicized actions.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Gov. Andy Beshear’s Finance and Administration Cabinet issued subpoenas to former Bevin lawyers Chad Meredith and Matthew Kuhn on June 18 and July 8, respectively. Both Meredith and Kuhn now work in the appellate division for Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, the newspaper noted in its article.

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According to records obtained by the Herald-Leader, the subpoenas asked the two attorneys to turn over documents related to pardons issued by Bevin; a contract with the law firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister; any personal legal work they did for Bevin, including on the valuation of his home in Anchorage; and any work related to the 2019 gubernatorial campaign.

According to the newspaper, the subpoena issued to Kuhn also asked for relevant emails sent to former Bevin employees Steve Pitt (who resigned from the Attorney General’s office recently because of his role in Bevin’s pardons), Jessica Ditto (a former spokeswoman for Bevin who later worked in the communications office for President Donald Trump), Blake Brickman (Bevin’s former chief of staff), Gwen Pinson (former attorney in the Finance Cabinet), Ken Bohac (former inspector general for the Finance Cabinet), William Landrum (former Finance Cabinet Secretary), Scott Brinkman (former Secretary of the Executive Cabinet), Chris Lewis (former attorney in Finance and Administration), Lesley Bilby (former executive director in the office of legal services in the Personnel Cabinet) and Andrew McNeil (former senior adviser to Bevin).

Beshear’s communications director, Crystal Staley, said the state is only seeking to get back records that belong to it so it can comply with open records requests submitted by media outlets, according to the Herald-Leader.

“The Finance and Administration Cabinet is not investigating the attorney general or his office. Instead it is seeking the return of public records that former employees of government cabinets or the governor’s office took with them that are property of those entities. In many cases, that cabinet has a legal duty to retain the records under the constitution or state statutes,” Staley is quoted as telling the newspaper.

But the requests prompted sharp responses on several fronts, especially since Bevin’s administration carried out investigations into the administration of Steve Beshear, Andy Beshear’s fathe.

According to the Herald-Leader, Krista Locke, deputy communications director for Cameron, accused Andy Beshear’s administration of being “fixated” on Bevin, especially his pardons.

“Neither the fact that the FBI was asked to conduct its own investigation nor the reality that gubernatorial pardons fall outside the realm of the Finance Cabinet’s authority has dissuaded Governor Beshear from his politically motivated quest. These demands are clearly an attempt to settle a political vendetta and to distract our office from fulfilling our duties related to current litigation,” Locke is quoted as saying.

The records’ requests cover more information than just pardons, the newspaper noted.