Labor group requests ethics probe of Kentucky GOP gubernatorial candidate over campaign solicitation

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A prominent labor group on Tuesday requested an ethics investigation of Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron for soliciting and accepting campaign donations from executives of a substance abuse treatment organization under scrutiny by his office since last year.

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO, which has strong Democratic ties, asked the state Executive Branch Ethics Commission to investigate “circumstances surrounding” the donations to Cameron’s gubernatorial campaign. State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said it raises “serious concerns” about Cameron’s compliance with campaign finance laws.

It continued a back-and-forth over campaign finances in the Kentucky governor’s race. Cameron is challenging Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in one of the nation’s most closely watched elections this year.

Beshear’s campaign was put on the defensive recently by an influx of campaign donations — linked to a single credit card — that went to the Kentucky Democratic Party and his campaign, resulting in refunds of more than $200,000 in donations. Cameron’s office asked the FBI to investigate the Democratic-related matter.

Meanwhile, Cameron’s campaign has said it refunded $7,600 in donations from executives with Edgewater Recovery Centers. Asked to respond Tuesday to the investigation request in the Edgewater matter, Cameron’s campaign referred to its previous statement in the matter. In that statement, Cameron said his “approach” to the Edgewater-related campaign donations has been to “review, recuse and refund.” The donations were first reported by The Daily Beast.

Cameron solicited donations during a call early this year to an Edgewater representative, according to Michael Denbow, an attorney representing Edgewater. A Cameron campaign official made a follow-up call to the same representative, and there was an exchange regarding a possible fundraiser that never took place, Denbow recently told The Associated Press.

Edgewater has been under investigation since 2022 by the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse in the attorney general’s office. A case number indicates that the investigation started last year, Denbow said. Edgewater received a subpoena for information in early March as part of the probe, he said. Edgewater denies any wrongdoing in the matter.

Cameron recused himself from the Edgewater investigation in May.

Londrigan, the state AFL-CIO president, said in a news release Tuesday that it’s “appropriate, timely and legally important” for an investigation to be undertaken regarding the Edgewater donations.

Edgewater Recovery Centers offer alcohol and drug abuse treatment for men and women, according to its website. Edgewater is a state-licensed behavioral health organization offering “multiple levels of care,” with facilities in a handful of Kentucky communities, the website says.

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