Beshear Pledges To Air Finances Answers challenge from Fletcher
By John Stamper, Herald-Leader
FRANKFORT -- Answering a challenge from Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Democratic candidate for governor Steve Beshear said yesterday he will release his financial information, including tax returns, sources of income and a list of business partners.
Fletcher had challenged Beshear to release the information Wednesday as he deflected questions from reporters about his refusal to release the names of donors to a legal defense fund set up to pay bills stemming from an investigation of state hiring practices.
If Beshear agrees to release his personal financial information, as Fletcher has, "then he can talk to me about a legal defense fund and so can you," Fletcher told Mark Hebert of Louisville's WHAS-TV. "Then he's got some ground to stand on."
Told of the challenge, Beshear promptly pledged to release his financial information within the next three weeks.
"The people of this state deserve to know that a governor has no conflict of interest from his own financial interests," Beshear said yesterday. "So I'm going to release a detailed list of all my assets and liabilities, everybody I owe, what I own and where my income comes from so that nobody can have any questions about whether I have any conflicts or not."
Beshear said it was "ridiculous" for a governor with so many ethical problems to challenge his integrity.
After being told of Beshear's response, Fletcher's campaign manager, Marty Ryall, said Fletcher has no intention of releasing the names of donors to his defense fund until after Attorney General Greg Stumbo leaves office in December.
Fletcher's decision to withhold the names of donors was criticized heavily during the GOP primary for governor by opponent Anne Northup and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence.
Pence implied that Fletcher might be steering state contracts or handing out plum appointments to individuals who donate.
In an interview on Louisville radio yesterday, Pence said he will not support Fletcher during the fall election unless he releases the names of donors.
Governor Fletcher can dish it out, but can't take it.....he is unwilling to submit to his own statements and challenges. What difference does it make? Even if the governor did something illegal, he can just give himself a pardon (literally).
Governor Fletcher doesn't stand his ground on anything.
- Fletcher promised to change the good ol' boy culture of state government but became part of it instead.
- He punished those who disagreed with him.
- He took the Fifth Amendment because he had things to hide.
- He pardoned his whole administration because he was afraid of how high up the investigation into hiring abuses would reach.
- He cut a deal to end the investigation to keep anything else from coming out.
- Fletcher became the very thing he had vowed to change.
Not to worry however. The general election isn't far......afterwards, Kentucky will have a new chief executive leading the government.