Politics

The FBI is conducting an antitrust investigation into contractors working on road and construction projects with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

First reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the cabinet recently issued a notice for all contractors who work with the state to preserve contract data as a result of the investigation.

Cabinet employees are also required to preserve all data relating to state contracts dating back to 2010 — which means the scope of the investigation will include contracts made under Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, as well as former Gov. Steve Beshear’s, who left office in 2015.

“The Cabinet is fully cooperating and assisting the Department of Justice with its investigation,” said Naitore Djigbenon, a spokeswoman for the cabinet. “At this time, no additional information about the investigation is available.”

The cabinet says it received a grand jury subpoena from the FBI on March 22 and has posted a letter on its website alerting contractors about the investigation.

“As a result, the Cabinet is immediately notifying all contractors who have interacted with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet from 2010 to present to preserve any and all documents, communication, and data in their possession that is in any way related to Cabinet construction, paving, or asphalt projects,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to warn contractors that failure to preserve the data could result in “action by the federal government.”

Transportation Cabinet contracts came under scrutiny last year when a Democratic state lawmaker accused Bevin of freezing a road project in his district as political retribution.

Bevin said the project was frozen because the state hadn’t obtained the proper permitting and in turn accused previous Gov. Beshear of approving the project too quickly.

The matter led to the creation of a House investigatory committee, which could not determine if Bevin froze the project as political payback.

Bevin panned the committee as politically motivated, calling it a “kangaroo court.”

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.