A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bill Straub: If Bevin truly is a man of integrity, then it’s well past time that he shows some

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WASHINGTON – There is some evidence that the glorious leader, Gov. Mad Matt Bevin, may have stepped in it this time, and he is reacting with all the smug, self-satisfaction of a used car dealer pawning off a Yugo with no engine to your grandmother.

Bevin may – and it should be stressed that the word “may’’ is key here — be involved in a property transaction that could prove personally beneficial, a financial windfall, so to speak. The outcome remains muddy at this juncture because the governor has proved himself a master of the diversionary tactic, proclaiming himself at every turn to be the great and powerful Oz and then attacking those who question his rightful claims to the almighty without responding to the evidence at hand.

Some may view his maneuvering as an excellent political stratagem. What it does, in reality, is establish that the governor has all the guts of the smallest amoeba at the bottom of the petri dish, unwilling to meet reasonable but uncomfortable questions head on and then seeking protection behind his mother’s skirt.

This latest example involves Tom Loftus, the Frankfort Bureau Chief for The Courier-Journal of Louisville who has covered the capital city for better than 30 years and regularly induces angina in the rich and powerful, like Bevin.

(Note: I consider Tom a close, personal friend and we worked together when he was Frankfort Bureau Chief for the sorely missed Kentucky Post way back in the day).

It’s fair to say Loftus is the best journalist working in the commonwealth today (after all, I came to Washington in 1994) so it should come as no surprise that Bevin avoids him like Julian Assange ducking a process server, a ploy that only leads to Loftus and all other great reporters doubling down.

Loftus was tipped that Bevin, with more dough than sense, may have purchased new digs in the affluent community of Anchorage in Jefferson County, determining after visiting said property that it was being guarded by the governor’s security detail. It was further determined that the residence was purchased for $1.6 million by Anchorage Place LLC, an outfit operated by citizen or citizens unknown.

The manse was sold to Anchorage Place by a corporation controlled by Neil Ramsey, the president of an investment firm, and his wife Annee, both of whom have contributed to Bevin’s political endeavors. Ramsey, as a matter of fact, was appointed by Bevin to the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Directors last year.

Interesting to this point but worth only a slight raising of the eyebrow if, indeed, the governor is connected to Anchorage Place LLC. Bevin, after all, has nine kids, as he’s fond of reminding one and all when it works to his political convenience, and the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, as spacious as it may be, might not be large enough to accommodate such an extensive clan.

Fair enough. As the great Chicago columnist Mike Royko intoned back in 1985 when Alaska sought to impeach Gov. Bill Sheffield for leasing governmental space from a political supporter, “Who do they expect him to do a favor for — an enemy?’’

Unfortunately for Mad Matt it gets a bit more interesting. The current assessment by the Jefferson County Property Value Administrator places the value of the house and other improvements at $2,683,000, indicating whoever owns Anchorage Place LLC, by plunking down $1.6 million, made out like a bandit.

Some might even call it a sweetheart deal.

As you may imagine this raises some questions that Mad Matt could quite obviously clear up in a New York second if he was of a mind. He has instead opted to treat the situation like Horton sitting on the nest, refusing to budge. He thus far has failed to come clean and reveal his connection, if any, to Anchorage Place LLC. The governor and his press office have refused to address inquiries from Loftus and others.

Oh, but he did appear on a couple of Louisville radio shows and mocked reporters for doing their jobs. Questioned by Terry Meiners, long-time afternoon drive host on WHAS-AM, Bevin tripped the light fantastic, asserting that reporters should “care about things like the drug addiction problem, and the pension crisis, and the amazing amount of bureaucracy and the corruption that is rampant and the fact that the FBI is back again investigating the prior administration’s road contracts. These things should concern the media but instead they literally care about things that do not matter.”

It’s time for the citizens of the commonwealth to come to grips with the fact that their governor is a conniver of the first order who takes great umbrage when someone dares suggest what he’s doing ain’t exactly kosher.

Bevin also said, “There’s people like Tom Loftus who literally need to get a life, that guy is pathetic, he really is, you can quote me on that.”

Then Mad Matt and Meiner had a nice chuckle, and commonwealth voters were no closer to getting an answer before such hogwash flowed from his pie hole.

That’s how Bevin operates. Caught with his drawers down around his ankles, he goes on an absolutely amazing screed of unprecedented flapdoodle. Anyone so unaware that the media in the commonwealth has extensively covered these issues for years before he took office and thereafter shouldn’t be serving as governor. Period. He’s counting on the thousands of unacquainted listeners to swallow his malarkey whole.

And through all this Bevin has refused to participate in anything approaching a press conference or even answer questions submitted to his press secretary. There’s a word for this – cowardice.

It’s time for the citizens of the commonwealth to come to grips with the fact that their governor is a conniver of the first order who takes great umbrage when someone dares suggest what he’s doing ain’t exactly kosher. Then, presented with the evidence, he scurries around like he’s playing in the World Series of dodgeball.

Bevin desperately wants voters to believe he is a politician of unquestioned integrity, one who follows the axiom of Caesar’s wife – that he simply floats above all suspicion.

Yet this is the man who promised to release his tax returns if elected and almost immediately reneged, thus depriving Kentucky residents with some insight into his financial dealings and who owns him.

This is the man who overturned the policy of his predecessor, former Gov. Steve Beshear, that provided the state attorney general and auditor with the authority to nominate candidates to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission – thus providing him with the power to appoint sycophants who wouldn’t dare question any ploys.

This is the man who has constantly sought to undermine the authority of Attorney General Andy Beshear, who represents the one remaining office that has the authority to at least try to keep him on the straight and narrow.

This is the man who failed to pay a 2016 property tax bill in a timely fashion, denied the claim, and then wrote a check covering the amount.

And, of course, this is the man who sticks his fingers in his ear whenever the press raises a legitimate question and, perhaps, profits from a sweetheart deal that he refuses to acknowledge.

Yet the good people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are supposed to think that Honest Matt Bevin is a man of integrity.

What a joke.

Washington correspondent Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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One Comment

  1. Marv Dunn says:

    Many people have compared Mad Matt with our President 45 (I can’t bear to say the name). There is also another layer of comparison. Neither seems to have a sense of humor. Both sometimes smile but I have never seen either of them emit a real out loud, from the gut or the heart, expressive laugh. I don’t trust people with no sense of humor.

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