Kentucky GOP Star’s Cash Scandal Expands to His Democratic Rival

The company at the center of a burgeoning campaign finance scandal involving Daniel Cameron—the Kentucky attorney general and GOP governor nominee—also raised thousands of dollars for his Democratic rival, Gov. Andy Beshear, a development that could complicate their high-profile battle for the state’s most powerful office.The contributions came from a fundraiser that the owner of

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The company at the center of a burgeoning campaign finance scandal involving Daniel Cameron—the Kentucky attorney general and GOP governor nominee—also raised thousands of dollars for his Democratic rival, Gov. Andy Beshear, a development that could complicate their high-profile battle for the state’s most powerful office.

The contributions came from a fundraiser that the owner of the company, the addiction support network Edgewater Recovery Centers, held at his home on April 24.

Beshear personally attended the fundraiser, social media posts show, hours after presenting Edgewater’s owner with a $5srcsrc,srcsrcsrc grant check at the grand opening of a new nonprofit office in the town of Morehead.

The grant was awarded to Raven Cares, a sober living housing nonprofit that Edegwater owner John David Elam created last year, Internal Revenue Service records show. The funds came from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a partnership between the federal government and 13 state governments, to which Beshear was named co-chair in January.

ARC had initially appropriated the money in September 2src22, before Beshear was co-chair, though he was serving on the commission alongside a dozen other governors, including the commission’s Republican leader at the time, then-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Cameron directly solicited donations from Edgewater officials in January—while his attorney general’s office was investigating the company over concerns about its billing practices. His office subpoenaed Edgewater in March, the same month Cameron had planned a fundraiser with the company. The fundraiser talks stopped that same month, but Edgewater employees went ahead with the donations.

Cameron, however, did not recuse from that investigation until after his office received a public records request in May for all of his recent recusals—four months after he contacted the company, and two months after receiving the first of the donations. (Beshear’s office is not involved in the probe.)

The contributions came from top company officials, including Elam, and totaled $6,9srcsrc, according to Kentucky campaign finance records.

The Beshear fundraiser appears to have been a much broader effort than Edgewater’s support for Cameron, who received donations from six employees.

A Cameron spokesperson didn’t reply to a comment request for this article. Edgewater’s outside counsel, Mike Denbow, confirmed the Beshear fundraiser at Elam’s house but declined further comment.

Reached for comment, Beshear spokesperson Alex Floyd said that the contrast between the two candidates’ handling of the Edgewater contributions underscores ethical concerns over Cameron.

“Daniel Cameron launched an investigation of an addiction treatment center and then went to the executives of that center to ask for campaign cash. That is unethical at least, possibly illegal—and not something Andy Beshear has ever done,” Floyd said in a statement, arguing that “Cameron’s actions need to be investigated by law enforcement.”

The money from the Beshear fundraiser was transferred to the campaign on May 11. While the totals run into the thousands, the exact haul is impossible to confirm from the details in the filings alone, though contributions at the time from nearby residents run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The Beshear donors include some of the same Edgewater officials who donated to Cameron. One of those employees was named in Cameron’s recusal as a specific focus of the probe, which was opened in 2src22 under the state’s Office of Medicare Fraud and Abuse, The Daily Beast previously reported.

That employee, Versailles resident William Fannin, gave $5srcsrc to Beshear at the fundraiser, and his wife contributed another $5srcsrc, state filings show.

Another employee, Edgewater general counsel Ashley Adkins, cut Beshear a $1,5srcsrc check from the event. But Adkins listed her employer as her personal law firm, Adkins & Ferguson, LLC, while listing Edgewater as her employer on her two $7srcsrc contributions to Cameron.

The election in Kentucky, slated for this November, is arguably the most closely watched contest of the year. Beshear, a rare Democrat to find success in a state Donald Trump won by nearly 3src points in 2src2src, is running on a record focused on the economy and health care. (The health-care industry has poured about $3srcsrc,srcsrcsrc into the race so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)

Cameron, a protégé of longtime Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has the staunch backing of both his former boss and Trump, and is seen as a potential future national star for the GOP.

While the company behind the donations is the same, it is true that Beshear’s circumstances differ from Cameron’s in a few key ways.

First, where Cameron approached Edgewater personally, it appears to have been the reverse with Beshear. His campaign told The Daily Beast that the governor did not solicit the contributions or initiate the fundraiser. Elam and Adkins are also both typically Democratic donors, state and federal filings show, and it’s unclear why Cameron sought out their support specifically. (Elam’s lone Republican contribution is a $5,srcsrcsrc gift to the Kentucky GOP last year.)

In a previous email to The Daily Beast, Adkins wrote that Edgewater cooperates with members of both parties, hailing Beshear as a governor who has “made huge strides to assist individuals in recovery from substance use disorder.” She also pointed to the company’s work on legislation sponsored by Republican state Rep. Samara Heavrin.

The timing is also different in each candidate’s case.

Cameron reached out to Edgewater first and failed to de-conflict his political and official concerns for a period of months.

At first, Cameron wanted to do a fundraiser with the company, Edgewater previously told The Daily Beast, but the plan fizzled in March when Cameron was “made aware” of the potential conflict of interest, the Associated Press reported this week.

The attorney general only recused himself from the case two months later, and refunded the money in June, days after a second public records request sought more details about the probe.

Beshear, however, also has a side relationship with the company, via the ARC grant.

An ARC spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the federation imposes “stringent guidelines and specifications” for its INSPIRE grants, including providing measurable benchmarks and implementation.

Applications first undergo a state review—Beshear would have signed off in the case of Kentucky-based Raven Cares—before going before a full review by the larger commission, outside experts, and federal panel for final approval. All state members must agree to every award, the spokesperson said.

Raven Care’s $5srcsrc,srcsrcsrc grant was one of six awards to Kentucky organizations drawn from ARC’s $12 million INSPIRE program, according to an ARC press release. Groups in 1src other states also received INSPIRE grants last year, nine of them to West Virginia entities, the release says.

A Beshear spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the campaign is “unaware of any other Raven Cares funding.”

The Edgewater scandal is one half of the dueling campaign finance accusations that have dominated the race’s recent headlines in recent weeks.

Last week, Cameron asked the FBI to investigate a GOP mayor’s bungled $2srcsrc,srcsrcsrc bundling operation for Beshear and the Kentucky Democratic Party. The next day, the KDP alerted the feds to the Edgewater scandal, requesting an ethics investigation into Cameron’s role; they’ve since been joined by the Kentucky chapter of the AFL-CIO.

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