Kentucky Politics Distilled: Beshear Running For Governor

Jul 13, 2018

This week in Kentucky politics, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced he’s running for governor, the state auditor released a report finding a “pervasive lack of accountability” in Kentucky’s courts administration and a bunch of new laws go into effect this weekend.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has been Gov. Matt Bevin’s main political rival for the past couple years, so it was a surprise to virtually no one when Beshear announced he’s running for governor this week. 
“Instead of leadership, we see name calling and bullying, instead of leadership, we see name-calling and bullying. Instead of working together, our government says it’s my way or the highway. Instead of building our Kentucky families up, Frankfort is tearing them down. Kentucky deserves better.” 
Beshear is the son of Bevin’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. 
And during the upcoming race, Republicans are likely to depend on reminding voters that an official that served in both of the Beshear’s offices—Tim Longmeyer—is now serving time in a federal prison for bribery charges. 
Beshear has promised to donate campaign funds tied to Longmeyer to a political watchdog group once an audit of his campaign account is completed. He first promised that more than two years ago. 
“The moment the Registry of Election Finance under the Bevin administration finishes their audit, we’re on year two and a half of the audit, I’d love for it to finish tomorrow, but we’re going to provide every single dollar.” 
Beshear tapped Jacqueline Coleman to be his running mate, she’s an assistant principal at Nelson County High School, showing that the ticket is hoping to ride on the wave of outrage from educators upset about changes to the pension system and a possible state takeover of Louisville’s public school system. 
“As I stand here today, Kentucky’s largest school system faces a hostile takeover. And if you think they will stop there, you are wrong. This is the first step in the Bevin administration’s plan to dismantle public education across Kentucky.” 
Bevin has played coy when asked if he’ll run for reelection. He has until late January next year to decide. Meanwhile a handful of other Democrats have been testing the waters, including former state auditor Adam Edelen, Louisville State Rep. Attica Scott and House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins. 
Also this week, Kentucky’s CURRENT state auditor Mike Harmon released an audit of the agency that runs Kentucky’s courts system, saying there was rampant abuse of state resources and little oversight of top officials. 
“While it may have been a nice gesture, the purchase of gifts like custom mint julep cups is not a legitimate purpose of use of public funds.” 
The audit of the administrative office of the courts included several findings that Supreme Court Justices had misused state resources. 
One finding was that the director of AOC purchased custom mint julep cups at the instruction of Chief Justice John Minton’s wife. It also reported that Justice. Samuel Wright had the agency lease office space from a business owned by his sons when a cheaper option was available. 
The AOC said it was implementing several reforms, but Harmon said they didn’t go far enough. 
“While I am certainly appreciative that AOC invited us in and I am appreciative that they have embraced some of our recommendations, their dismissive attitude toward key recommendations towards ethics and accountability really quite saddens me.” 
And this week, Gov. Matt Bevin drew controversy for a video he posted on Twitter. 
“Hey this is Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. I’m here at Nativity Academy. I’m about to go in and meet the members of the West Louisville Chess Club. Not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town and yet some incredible young minds.” 
Louisville’s west end is predominantly African American and many community leaders said that Bevin was stereotyping the neighborhood. 
The video came a little more than a year after Bevin drew controversy in the West End by calling for residents to combat rising violence with roving prayer patrols, while community members demanded more action. 
That’s it for your distilled rundown of the news out of Frankfort this week. For the Kentucky Public Radio Network.