There is no record of Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, using his key fob or any other kind of security card to get into the state Capitol building for the last three years, and his office is repeatedly refusing to say why.
What? HuffPost is on the case.
The facts: A series of open records requests for Cameron’s key fob and security card logs at the Capitol building came back blank. The blank pages span all the way back to January 2020, which was the last time Cameron was registered using his key fob to enter the building.
The Kentucky state office that processes open records requests, the Finance and Administration Cabinet, specifies in a letter accompanying the records that nothing has been withheld or redacted. As in, the blank pages are blank because there are no records.
Here’s a screenshot of the letter saying nothing was left out of the records.
And here’s a screenshot of one batch of Cameron’s key fob records, from May 2022 to May 2023. HuffPost obtained copies of all of these records.
Cameron’s office is in the Capitol building. In fact, all three branches of Kentucky’s state government are in that one building in Frankfort. There is another satellite office in Frankfort for the attorney general that he’s not necessarily expected to go into.
An open records request for key fob records for that office, from September 2022 through March 2023, resulted in a 4,195-page report showing lots of staff members going in. But no Cameron.
The attorney general has definitely been in the state Capitol at least a handful of times since he was sworn in in December 2019. HuffPost searched Associated Press and Reuters photo databases for images of Cameron inside the building. A few turned up.
Here’s one of the attorney general in January 2020, delivering some paperwork to the secretary of state’s office in the Capitol building.
Here’s one from November 2022, when Cameron paid his respects to former Kentucky Gov. John Brown as he lay in state in the Capitol rotunda.
And here’s one of Cameron sitting in his Capitol office in August 2021, taking part in an interview.
There are several possible explanations for why there is no record of Cameron, who is currently running for governor, passing through security to go into his office.
One is that someone else has been swiping him in with their key fob every single time, like a staffer or a security officer. Another possibility is that Cameron has been entering the Capitol somewhere less secure, where his fob card isn’t needed. Still another possibility is that he’s working out of one of the five other attorney general field offices scattered around the state.
And of course, it’s possible the attorney general isn’t going in to work much at all.
HuffPost reached out to the Kentucky State Police, which provides security at the Capitol, to ask about security protocols for elected officials entering the building. HuffPost also reached out to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, which provides Capitol media credentials, with questions about security and access. Neither responded.
It only adds to the mystery of Cameron’s whereabouts that he has a reputation for trying to keep public information private. Amye Bensenhaver, a retired state assistant attorney general who wrote open records and open meetings decisions in the Kentucky attorney general’s office for 25 years, wrote a recent op-ed laying out what she describes as Cameron’s “disdain for the principles of open government.”
The weirdest part of all of this, though — and the only reason we’re writing this story at all — is that Cameron’s office has repeatedly refused to explain what the deal is.
In a series of email exchanges over the last few weeks, Cameron’s aides insisted that the attorney general has been coming in to work and that there’s nothing weird about there being no record of him entering the building for years.
“This is not correct,” Atley Smedley, Cameron’s deputy communications director, said of the idea that the attorney general is not going into his office. “Attorney General Cameron has regularly come to his office since he assumed the position of Attorney General in December 2019.”
Smedley did not respond to a follow-up email asking why the attorney general’s key fob logs are all blank if he’s been coming into his office. When HuffPost followed up again, asking the same question, Cameron’s communications director Shellie May responded.
She dodged the question and said the attorney general works hard.
“Attorney General Cameron works tirelessly advocating for the men, women, and children of all 120 Kentucky counties,” May said. “The records do not accurately reflect the comings and goings of General Cameron or any elected official, nor can any conclusions be drawn from them.”
HuffPost followed up again, last week, and shared still more public records showing that Cameron had been using his fob key to enter the Capitol between May 2019 and January 2020 — eleven times in total.
Asked what changed with Cameron’s entry into the Capitol after January 2020, a Cameron aide requesting to be referred to only as “a spokesperson for the office” had this to say:
“What makes it clear that Daniel Cameron has been on the job working for Kentuckians, among other things, is the fact that he has sued the Biden Administration dozens of times to stop its misguided policies. And he has stopped the Beshear Administration from violating the rights of Kentuckians on multiple occasions. The key fob records do not accurately reflect the comings and goings of General Cameron or any elected official, nor can any conclusions be drawn from them.”
So, still no explanation.
HuffPost tried one last time on Tuesday to give Cameron’s office a chance to explain why there’s no record of him using his fob key to enter the Capitol for three years when there used to be a record of him doing so. No response.
There are no specific rules for how often a state attorney general has to go into the office. Cameron is certainly the public face of the office, and can lean on dozens of employees to carry out office business while he may be out in the community or working remotely.
During the legislative session, though, it makes much more sense that Cameron would be in the Capitol.
Bensenhaver, who served under six previous Kentucky state attorney generals, told HuffPost on Monday that her guess is that Cameron is simply being swiped into the Capitol by his security detail or by a state trooper on the scene. She was puzzled by the “self-incriminating” responses from the attorney general’s office.
“I’m surprised they would be so obtuse about this. All they have to do is explain to you that the attorney general, as a matter of practice, does not sign himself in. That’s a better explanation than there is no record,” said Bensenhaver, who is also the co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. “They’re really shooting themselves in the foot by obfuscating if he’s there. We have to assume he comes in and out of the Capitol.”
“He’d better be there,” she added.
If you have photographic evidence of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron using a fob key or any other kind of security card to get into the state Capitol, please contact the local authorities us. Anonymity guaranteed.