Governor Steve Beshear’s son is representing the company that has proposed building a natural gas liquids pipeline across Kentucky. The Bluegrass Pipeline is a joint venture between two companies—Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and Williams—and if it’s built, it’ll transport the byproducts of natural gas drilling from the northeast to the Gulf of Mexico.
Andrew Beshear is an attorney at law firm Stites & Harbison‘s Louisville office. As the State Journal in Frankfort reported earlier today, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners is a longtime client of the firm, and Andrew Beshear is working on the company’s account.
When asked about a possible conflict of interest, Kerri Richardson, communications director for the governor’s office, wrote in an email that the law firm Stites & Harbison, by which Andrew Beshear is employed, has represented the company for more than a decade.
“We don’t see any issues with conflict of interest,” Richardson wrote. “As a large legal firm, Stites & Harbison represents clients who sometimes have adverse interests to the Commonwealth.”
Andrew Beshear went with company representatives to the Public Service Commission earlier this year. The commissioners are appointed by the governor, but the PSC doesn’t currently have any jurisdiction over the Bluegrass Pipeline.
Here’s the statement Andrew Beshear sent the State Journal:
“Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, through its Owensboro subsidiary Texas Gas — a company that employs hundreds of Kentuckians — has been a firm client since 1995, 10 years before I joined the firm,” Andrew Beshear wrote.
“Boardwalk Pipeline Partners is a part of this joint venture project that is regulated by federal law, and not the Commonwealth or the (Public Service Commission).
“The Supreme Court of Kentucky has issued rules governing conflicts of interest for lawyers,” the governor’s son continued. “I am proud of how the lawyers in our firm carefully and vigilantly follow these rules.
“Neither I nor the firm have lobbied for this project. We were simply hired through a longtime client to provide legal services. Those services have been performed by more than a dozen lawyers.”
Earlier this week, the governor said he doesn’t plan to put pipeline safety on the agenda for this month’s special legislative session. Opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline have been lobbying for legislators to address natural gas liquids regulation, and clear up questions related to eminent domain.