Cameron solicited, refunded campaign donations from execs of a company his office was investigating

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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Kentucky Lantern

Republican gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron’s campaign solicited contributions from officials of an addiction recovery center that was under investigation by Cameron’s attorney general office.

The Daily Beast first reported last week that Cameron’s campaign refunded political donations from Edgewater Recovery Center executives. The donations were originally accepted in March and April. The attorney general recused himself from the investigation in May two days after his office received an open records request for Cameron’s recusals.

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On Monday, the Associated Press reported a lawyer representing Edgewater, Michael Denbow, said Cameron directly solicited donations from the executives in a phone call earlier this year, but “no quid pro quo” was intended when the executives made the donations. Since last year, the recovery center has been investigated by the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse in the attorney general’s office, the AP said.

The AP reported executives donated $7,600 to Cameron’s campaign, which were later refunded. Multiple media outlets reported differing amounts.

In a statement via his campaign about the donations, Cameron said political candidates “owe transparency and accountability to the people they represent.” He said preliminary conversations were had about representatives of Edgewater holding a fundraiser for his campaign, but after “we were made aware of a conflict, the event was canceled.” After the Edgewater executives made online contributions, Cameron said he recused himself from the investigation and the refunds were made.

“My approach has been to review, recuse, and refund, while Andy Beshear’s approach is to review, appoint, and reward,” Cameron said. “Beshear raised over $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions, bragged about it, and then rewarded the donor with 1.4 million in taxpayer dollars.”

Cameron was referring to $202,000 in political contributions linked to London Mayor Randall Weddle refunded by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign and the Kentucky Democratic Party. The Kentucky Lantern broke the story last week.

The $1.4 million grant was given to London for sidewalk repairs in its downtown. The Transportation Cabinet previously said in a statement that there was no connection between the donations and the grant because recipients are determined by staff with specific criteria for the program.

Cameron’s office referred the Beshear and Democrats’ refunds to the FBI.

Alex Floyd, the communications director for Beshear’s campaign, said in a statement Monday that Cameron’s office “has an obligation to refer Cameron’s actions to the FBI, but has refused in order to protect Cameron.”

“The timing is clear — Cameron personally called a business he was investigating and solicited campaign contributions,” Floyd said. “His actions are unethical and must be investigated.”

When asked for further comment about the media reports, a spokesperson for Cameron’s office provided a copy of a June 23 letter from Deputy Attorney General Victor Maddox in response to a Kentucky Democratic Party attorney about a possible investigation of the recovery centers and Cameron’s political donations. The letter says Cameron recused himself “Immediately after learning of the contributions” on May 19.