The office of Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway has named a special prosecutor to investigate Sullivan University for potential violations of Kentucky campaign finance laws after school executives encouraged employees to support his opponent in the general election.
Earlier this month, a former admissions officer at Spencerian College in Louisville, which is run by Sullivan University, accused officials of urging them to contribute to Republican attorney general candidate Todd P’Pool this November. Spencerian is among several for-profit colleges that are currently being probed by the attorney general.
From Lexington Herald-Leader:
Conway’s office received a complaint earlier this month from one of the employees asked to support P’Pool…Conway recused himself from the investigation because the complaint involves his re-election campaign, spokeswoman Allison Martin said. On Friday, a committee of four employees of the attorney general’s office independently chose Jim Crawford, the commonwealth’s attorney in Carrollton, as a special prosecutor.
(Crawford) previously was a special prosecutor in a campaign-finance case against former Democratic Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, which ended in 2009 with Henry’s guilty plea, a $500 fine and 12 months in jail, with the jail time suspended on the condition that Henry avoid further criminal problems.
Calling the investigation a political stunt, Sullivan’s chancellor and other top officials have contributed $12,000 to the GOP nominee thus far, which Conway’s re-election campaign has called on P’Pool to return.
P’Pool has said he won’t return the contributions.
Responding to the appointment of a special investigator to probe Sullivan’s contributions to the P’Pool campaign, GOP chairman Steve Robertson is calling on Conway to name a prosecutor to look into the governor’s contributions from state employees.
Earlier this month, a psychologist with the Department of Juvenile Justice made the accusation that the Beshear administration was threatening employees with termination if they did not contribute. A few days later a second employee with the transportation cabinet also alleged workers were being pressured to donate.
“If newspaper articles are the threshold by which the attorney general decides to appoint special prosecutors, then I demand Jack Conway appoint a special prosecutor or empanel a grand jury immediately to investigate the serious allegations of improper and illegal fundraising against Governor Beshear.
Jack Conway and Steve Beshear are turning Kentucky into a banana republic. One person in one article sparks the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Conway’s political opponent’s donors, but multiple people coming forward in multiple articles with serious, on-the-record allegations against Gov. Beshear apparently go unnoticed. Jack Conway has proven again that he’ll do and say anything to hold public office, including abusing his office to go after political opponents while ignoring serious allegations against a governor of his own party.
Frankfort is broken with these two at the helm and voters should make a change for the better come November.”
However, two employees who the first so-called whistleblower listed as being solicited by Beshear’s appointees have disputed the claim.
Still, Robertson has filed complaints with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and Executive Branch Ethics Commission.