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Three Kentucky Agencies Probe Requests for Political Contributions

A published report says three agencies are investigating allegations that a former state official pressured workers to contribute to the re-election campaign of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. The Courier-Journal reports the FBI, the state attorney general's office and the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission have interviewed current or former employees of the Department of Juvenile Justice about calls made in 2010 by former deputy secretary Charles Geveden.

None of the workers questioned said they felt threatened, though one said he felt pressured to donate but never did.

Geveden told the newspaper that he was unaware of the investigation, but said he did nothing wrong.

"I did not threaten anybody with their jobs or put pressure on anybody. ... I just called and asked them to make a contribution and those that did did and those that didn't didn't and that was fine with me," he said.

All three agencies said they could neither confirm nor deny an investigation.

The probe apparently stems from a letter sent by former Juvenile Justice employee Rodney Young to Attorney General Jack Conway and the state Republican Party complaining about calls his coworkers had received.

Gary Sewell, who still works for the department, said FBI agents and investigators from Conway's office interviewed him in September.

"There was pressure, `We think you should contribute this amount,' and so on and so forth. ... But I didn't feel threatened. I didn't think they were going to fire me if I didn't give," Sewell said, noting that he did not contribute and still holds a non-merit job.

Juvenile Justice Commissioner Hasan Davis said he spoke to the FBI about Geveden's call, but he declined to elaborate other than to say this: "I don't think that mine and Charlie's conversation went the way folks speculated."

Former Juvenile Justice Commissioner J. Ronald Haws said he was questioned by the FBI and the ethics commission, but had little information since he didn't receive a call from Geveden.

Juvenile Justice spokeswoman Stacy Floden said all three agencies have questioned her. She said Geveden asked her to make a contribution, but she decided not to.

Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said: "We are unaware of the status of any investigation, and have no knowledge of any improper actions by Mr. Geveden."

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