Ever since John Cheves’ story on Tuesday about former KRS head Mike Burnside claiming that Gov. Steve Beshear set up two business meetings with KRS and political supporters, both sides of the aisle have been in overdrive spinning it.
One side says that this is corruption of Nixonian proportions and Team Beshear eventually will have to resign or go to jail. The other side says that Mike Burnside is just a disgruntled employee who went out to the press to smear Beshear, doing a sloppy job trying to paint him as an unethical crook. I’ve been trying to shift through this spin over the last few days, because I honestly didn’t know what to make of it.
Well, here are my thoughts. First of all, the charge that Mike Burnside is just a disgruntled employee looking to smear the man who fired him in the media by pushing this story is false. Burnside did not contact John Cheves, John Cheves contacted him. Cheves asked him about those meetings, which he learned from elsewhere, and Burnside answered. Burnside may very well be “disgruntled”, but he’s not shopping this story around to Kentucky media. Burnside may very well have been neck deep in shady practices at KRS, but he only answered the questions asked of him. So a large part of this KDP spin is off base.
On the other hand, there truly is nothing “criminal” that Burnside has revealed in the story (nor did Cheves intend it to be perceived that way, I’m guessing). However, it is kind of shady, perhaps unethical, and does lead to suspicions of what else might have been happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Especially since Burnside just answered what was asked of him. But at this point, it’s just that: suspicions.
There is little doubt in my mind that there is a raging fire deep in the belly of Kentucky Retirement Systems, and that it has been burning for a long time now. We’ve been starting to detect the smoke through stories over the last year, and Cheves’ story this week provided a better view of it (the revolving door with lobbyists, political ops, and favors). But at this point, the only people that are going to find out where the fire started and by whom are the SEC, Crit Luallen and Billy Joel. Who’s the villain? Beshear? Fletcher? Burnside? Riddle? Many others? All of the above? Don’t know. The only thing I’m nearly certain of is that something is there, and somebody’s going down. And until then, the spin will most definitely continue.