Ex-Kentucky official testifies in lobbyist's bribery trial

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) In 2016, Kentucky's No. 2 law enforcement official gave a lobbyist a ride to his car.

Tim Longmeyer had known Jim Sullivan for years, back when Longmeyer was the secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. When offered the ride, Longmeyer was the deputy attorney general under Beshear's son, Andy Beshear. Sullivan was a lobbyist looking to land a lucrative contract for some of his clients.

"Let me put something right down there," Sullivan told Longmeyer as he placed $1,000 in cash in a cup holder. "I'll play the game."

What Sullivan didn't know was that Longmeyer had already been caught accepting bribes by the FBI. He was recording the conversation with a camera hidden in a day planner sitting on the car's dashboard, which captured a clear shot of Sullivan's face for a federal jury to see on Wednesday during the third day of Sullivan's bribery trial. The video was part of Longmeyer's nearly six hours of testimony, in which he offered his first extended public comments on a scheme that has sent three men to prison and resulted in embarrassment for some Democratic officeholders.

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Longmeyer is serving a prison sentence of five years and eight months at a federal facility in Alabama for his role in accepting bribes related to Kentucky's health insurance plan. He returned to Kentucky on Wednesday to testify against Sullivan, who faces four counts of bribery in a separate case.

The $1,000 payment on that day in 2016 was one of several surreptitious meetings between the two men over seven years. The arrangement began around 2010, when Sullivan's consulting firm represented Cannon Cochran Management Services Inc., a company that was paid about $1 million a year to administer Kentucky's workers' compensation claims. Longmeyer testified he met with Sullivan, who offered to give him a "Christmas present."

"It was a euphemism for a bribe," Longmeyer said. "He was asking me to make sure CCMSI got the contract."

CCMSI first won the contract in 2005. But in 2010, Longmeyer said Mike Haydon, who was Gov. Beshear's legislative affairs director and later chief of staff, pressured him to award the contract to Underwriters Safety and Claims because the company had "helped him out to raise some funds." Longmeyer said he worked to keep the contract with CCMSI because Sullivan had paid him. Underwriters protested because its bid had been $200,000 less. Longmeyer said he directed his staff to have CCMSI lower its bid by $200,000 to keep the contract.

Haydon died in 2012. Steve Beshear's former aide said Wednesday that Beshear was traveling and couldn't be reached.

After that, Sullivan kept paying Longmeyer. He handed him $2,500 in an envelope under the table at a Mexican restaurant in Frankfort. He met him in the parking lot of a Frisch's restaurant, discreetly dropping an envelope filled with $4,000 into the drivers' side window. It landed on Longmeyer's lap.

Longmeyer said he donated most of the money to Democratic political campaigns. He got around the campaign contribution limits by giving the money to family and friends and having them make the contributions for him. Some of that money went to Andy Beshear's campaign for attorney general. Beshear has vowed to donate that money to a government watchdog group once campaign finance officials conclude an audit of his 2015 campaign.

A spokesman in Andy Beshear's office said the attorney general has cooperated with the U.S. attorney and that the federal prosecutor has said the attorney general wasn't engaged in wrongdoing or aware of any.

"General Beshear is grateful for and has fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney, who has stated on numerous occasions that the Attorney General was not engaged in or aware of any wrongdoing," spokesman Terry Sebastian said.

Thomas Hectus, Sullivan's attorney, spent most of his time questioning Longmeyer on his other bribery conviction related to the state's health insurance plan. He asked Longmeyer about his plea agreement with prosecutors, getting him to acknowledge he hoped to get a shorter sentence by testifying against Sullivan. Longmeyer, dressed in an orange prison uniform with shackles around his ankles, told Hectus he had been involved in Democratic politics for most of his adult life.

"I don't suggest that path to anyone else," he said hoarsely.