By Sam Youngman
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign on Friday put forward a Connecticut attorney who said Matt Bevin, the senator’s Republican primary opponent, broke the law.
Hartford attorney Peter Martin said in a statement provided by the campaign that there appears to be evidence that Bevin broke Connecticut law when he signed grant documents that attested a company he owned had no federal liens or outstanding tax issues although it actually owed the IRS $74,000.
Bevin campaign spokeswoman Sarah Durand immediately dismissed the allegation. When asked if Bevin had committed a crime in Connecticut, she responded: “Of course he hasn’t.”
The assertion by Martin represented a continued assault on Bevin that began with an article in BuzzFeed Tuesday night, less than a week after Kentucky’s senior senator had signaled he was turning his focus toward likely Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Martin said he had reviewed documents Bevin filed and the BuzzFeed article.
“Based on my review, I believe there is strong prima facie evidence that Mr. Bevin violated Conn. Gen. Stat. section 53a-157b,” Martin said. “The version of the statute in effect at the time Mr. Bevin signed the certificate states ‘a person is guilty of false statement in the second degree when he intentionally makes a false written statement under oath … which he does not believe to be true and which statement is intended to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official function.’”
Violation of the law cited by Martin would be a misdemeanor.
The campaign said Martin was not connected to McConnell’s re-elect effort and he was not paid for his opinion.
“Now, I am not a prosecutor, I am not a judge and I am not a jury, but if I was Mr. Bevin’s attorney I would be very concerned,” Martin said.
On Wednesday, McConnell’s team produced three current and former Republican officials who set their sights on Bevin’s integrity, alleging that Bevin has demonstrated a pattern of lying about his records.
Bevin has said repeatedly he only accepted a $100,000 grant from the state of Connecticut after local officials urged him to take the money following a fire that burned down a factory Bevin owns. The factory, which makes bells, is considered the cornerstone of the town’s economy.
When Bevin signed the grant papers in June 2012, he had made arrangements with the IRS to pay off the $74,000 lien on an installment plan, according to BuzzFeed. A few months later, Bevin paid the remaining sum in whole.
McConnell’s campaign has ramped up attacks on Bevin this week after the Louisville businessman received the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund last week.
Bevin, in turn, has accused McConnell of rehashing old news in an effort to distract from his abysmal re-election poll numbers.
The severity of the attack from McConnell contrasts with a series of moves the senator made in recent weeks that suggested he was no longer concerned about his primary opponent.