Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

A three-part investigative series by the Lexington Herald-Leader and ProPublica this week highlighted alleged wrongdoing by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, including her approval of a no-bid contract for a questionable company owned by a donor to her political campaigns.

The first two parts of the series explored criticism Grimes has received from officials in both parties that say she inappropriately accessed the voting records of job applicants and political rivals, in addition to expanding her power over the Kentucky State Board of Elections.

The final report published on Friday examined her office’s approval of a no-bid $150,000 contract for CyberScout, a little-known company owned by a large political contributor to Grimes, with critics questioning if the cybersecurity company did any significant work.

Grimes fired back at the reporting after the first two parts of the series were published, suggesting in a tweet that the male and female reporters were engaging in a sexist smear campaign against her.

“More one-sided reporting,” she tweeted. “When you’re a woman and the boss, choosing to lead and not ‘pacify’ the good old boys club — I guess this is what you get. #WomenLeaders”

In an interview with the Courier Journal on Thursday, Grimes even suggested that her political rivals in both parties were conspiring to cause her current woes, questioning the motives behind Attorney General Andy Beshear’s appointment of an independent counsel last year to investigate the accusations regarding her misuse of voter data.

Lexington Herald-Leader Editor Peter Baniak responded to her criticism in a tweet Thursday night, stating that “We and @ProPublica stand by our reporting. The @heraldleader has a long tradition of publishing factual stories that hold politicians accountable for their use of public resources, regardless of party or gender.”

ProPublica issued a statement referencing Gov. Matt Bevin’s criticism last month of the news nonprofit’s partnership with the Courier Journal before the two had even published a story, calling the accusations of Bevin and Grimes “equally ludicrous.”

Grimes has not yet responded to the third report from the Herald-Leader and ProPublica on the CyberScout contract, but issued a lengthy statement responding to the first story emphatically denying that she did anything wrong and calling it “a non-story.”

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]