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Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Bevin Can Reject Beshear Opioid Contracts

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The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin is allowed to reject contracts Attorney General Andy Beshear made with private law firms to sue drugmakers over their role in the state’s opioid epidemic.

Beshear’s office has sought assistance from several law firms as it sues drug manufacturers and distributors in nine different cases.

In a statement, Bevin celebrated the legal victory, accusing Beshear of trying to direct contracts to “his friends and campaign donors.”

“As Attorney General, Andy Beshear claimed that he is above the law and attempted to put his campaign donors ahead of the interest of Kentuckians in ongoing cases with opioid manufacturers,” Bevin wrote.

“If allowed to continue, that practice could take millions of dollars away from Kentuckians who need it most and put it in the pockets of Andy’s largest campaign contributors.”

The ruling comes as Beshear is challenging Bevin in this year’s race for governor.

Beshear tried to award the contracts in 2017, but was ultimately denied by Bevin’s Finance and Administration Cabinet. Beshear then sued over the denial.

In a statement following the ruling, Beshear said that Bevin “just gave the opioid companies one of their biggest wins nationwide.”

“This decision has devastating impacts on our cases against companies that have ravaged our state and will cost taxpayers millions,” Beshear wrote. “Bevin took these actions to prevent the attorney general from holding these companies responsible for the death and addiction they have fueled.”

Beshear said he would seek to have the case re-heard.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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