Transparency must be Rule Instead of Exception in State Government

Andy Beshear

Frankfort is broken.

And its current leadership wants to keep you in the dark.

Over the last two years, Kentuckians have suffered from an executive branch that operates in secret, fighting transparency at every turn. The Bevin administration has filed lawsuits against newspapers, radio stations, lawyers and even individual Kentuckians who have sought documents that belong to you, the public.

These documents range from public pension analysis to how Gov. Bevin chooses to block Kentuckians from his social media accounts.

We have also witnessed the General Assembly operating through secret backroom deals, preventing you, the public, from participating in the lawmaking process. They have gone so far as to amend bills originally on dog bites, well diggers and sewage into major pension, taxation and higher education laws that are rushed through passage without public comment or even the time for legislators to read the bills.

Never before have we seen this level of secrecy and a total lack of transparency in state government.

Public officials are chosen by the people.

We work for you.

That means we have a responsibility to be transparent, including in our personal financial information. Public officials have a duty to show you that they are not controlled by special interests such as opioid manufacturers or for-profit charter school companies.

It’s a core principle of mine and one all public officials should adhere to so there are no secrets about who our allegiance is to – the citizens of Kentucky.

I want Kentuckians to know that as attorney general, I strive to set a different and positive example in Frankfort at a time when transparency is the exception and not the rule.

Last year, I became the first attorney general in Kentucky not currently seeking election to publicly release my tax returns. I’m repeating this action again by releasing my 2017 tax returns, which show I work for one and only client – you, the people of Kentucky.

My tax returns make it clear that my only sources of income are from my state salary and a single stock dividend.

Additionally, I filed my Statement of Financial Disclosure with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission Monday, April 9. They show my wife and I only have two significant debts – a student loan and our mortgage. Again, we are not and will not be controlled by outside forces.

The release of my tax returns and financial disclosure is part of my ongoing pledge to Kentuckians for open and transparent government.

I challenge every office holder to embrace transparency and release their returns. You deserve to know if they work for you or the special interests.

My hope is that by vigorously advocating for full financial disclosure by all public servants, open and transparent government will once again become the rule instead of the exception in Frankfort.

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