Edelen knocks Beshear by reminding voters his former aide was jailed on bribery charges
Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Adam Edelen on Monday launched the first attack ad in the Democratic primary contest with sharp arrows aimed at presumed front-runner Andy Beshear.
The 30-second spot, which is running exclusively in the Louisville market, features Edelen looking directly at the camera. He reminds voters that Beshear, the state attorney general, had his office rocked when his deputy was indicted for bribery.
"If you're like me, you don't like negative political ads, but sometimes you have to hear the facts," Edelen said in the ad. "Andy Beshear just isn't being straight with you. He told you he's fighting corruption, but his top aide is in jail for taking bribes."
Edelen is referring to disgraced Democrat Tim Longmeyer, whose career as a high-level state government official and party insider plummeted in 2016 when he was convicted for a more than $200,000 kickback scheme. Longmeyer, who worked for Beshear's father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, and was appointed as deputy attorney in 2015, was sentenced to serve 70 months in federal prison.
Edelen adds during the spot that as state auditor he fought to end corruption by helping conduct a review that led to the imprisonment of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, a Republican, who is a former University of Kentucky basketball star.
"That's the difference," Edelen says. "As state auditor, I locked up crooked politicians and I'm not taking any corporate PAC money. I'll work for you. Not lobbyists or corporations."
Beshear told the Courier Journal on Monday that Edelen's attacks assist Republican incumbent Matt Bevin's campaign and other GOP groups.
"Any of these attack ads that we're seeing are doing Matt Bevin's dirty work for him," he said. "Indeed, they seem to be following Matt Bevin's talking points, and they're intentionally misleading."
Beshear said that if his campaign does respond with an ad of its own, it will "clean up the record."
The attorney general earlier this year called on his Democratic rivals to sign a "positive pledge." This came after reports of a leaked internal poll showing Beshear with a commanding lead.
Edelen is the first of the three top Democratic contenders to air a negative advertisement in the four-way primary, which also features House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins and perennial candidate Geoff Young.
The spot makes charges that mirror attacks launched by a super PAC, dubbed Kentuckians For a Better Future, earlier this month that also challenged Beshear's record.
That ad features an ominous voice saying that in "Beshear’s world, it’s all about the money." It mentions Longmeyer's troubles and references how companies such as Purdue Pharma helped elect Beshear and other Democratic AG candidates through donations to the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
Kentuckians For a Better Future can receive unlimited amounts of money from individuals, labor unions and corporations under federal law. State campaign finance records show of the roughly $641,000 it has received, $500,000 came from Louisville philanthropist Christy Brown, who is the mother-in-law of Edelen's running mate, Gill Holland.
Beshear's campaign pushed back on parts of the Edelen ad criticizing Beshear for saying he will fix health care while taking money from cigarette companies and the makers of Oxycontin.
"The truth is Andy is a champion for health care and he’s the most aggressive attorney general in the country at taking on opioid companies — suing them nine times," said Eric Hyers, the Beshear campaign manager. "Now we know why Adam Edelen refused to join Andy in running a clean campaign. This is what desperate candidates who have flatlined in the polls do — tear others down to prop themselves up."
The campaign did not address the Longmeyer controversy in its statement directly. However, Beshear's team pointed out how federal authorities repeatedly said during the investigation that the attorney general had no knowledge of any wrongful actions.
Beshear called the funds linked to Longmeyer's crimes "tainted" and eventually donated more than $14,000 to Common Cause of Kentucky, a nonpartisan government watchdog group.