Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG's office. He made it more political.
The Republican gubernatorial nominee also broke his promises to make the office more frugal.
When Republican Daniel Cameron was elected Kentucky’s attorney general in 2019, he pledged to depoliticize the office and streamline its budget. Four years later, the number of political appointees on his team has nearly doubled, and his budget has ballooned by more than $12 million.
Attorney General Cameron is now the Republican nominee for Kentucky governor. He faces incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the election ending on Nov. 7.
On his 2019 campaign website, Cameron listed depoliticizing the attorney general’s office as his top priority. After being elected, he doubled down on that pledge.
“When I was on the campaign trail, I talked about depoliticizing this office,” Cameron said in January 2020. “And so that is first and foremost my priority and responsibility. That’s how I view this office. And we’re going to proceed in that manner.”
In 2023, the Daily Beast reported that, under Cameron’s leadership, the attorney general’s criminal appeals division had lost more than half of its merit attorneys. Merit employees are hired for their credentials and cannot be fired without cause and a rigorous review process. Nonmerit employees are appointed and beholden to their appointing agency or authority.
According to data provided in response to a Kentucky Open Records Act request, the number of nonmerit employees in the attorney general’s office grew from 61 to 108 in just three years, a 77% increase.
Cameron has paid lip service to the idea of frugal spending in state government. In his campaign for governor, he has called for a balanced budget. In 2017, he said that every agency in government should be looked at to ensure it is spending effectively.
But as attorney general, Cameron has presided over a budget explosion. In 2020 he requested a $46.1 million budget for fiscal year 2021 and $47.4 million for fiscal year 2022, significantly more than the $36 million recommended by Gov. Beshear’s office.
Spokespeople for the attorney general’s office and Cameron’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions for this story.
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