Evidently, Mitch McConnell isn’t the only disgusting person from Kentucky.
On December 13th, NPR posted the following report
Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor’s mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.
Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.
In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man’s family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his 2015 gubernatorial campaign.
In all, the former governor signed off on 428 pardons and commutations since his loss to Democrat Andy Beshear, according to The Courier-Journal. The paper notes, “The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents.”
Some of the pardons were uncontroversial, but others were simply inexplicable. For example, Bevin pardoned one Dayton Ross Jones and commuted his sentence to time served. Jones had pled guilty to the 2014 sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy; the assault had been captured on video and shared on social media. Jones was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016.
NPR quoted incoming Governor Andy Beshear about that particular pardon.
“A young man was attacked, was violated, it was filmed, it was sent out to different people at his school,” Beshear said. “It was one of the worst crimes that we have seen.
Bevin didn’t offer an explanation for that one.
A follow-up article from Vox focused on reactions to the pardons, and reported widespread disapproval, even among Republican supporters of the former Governor. Families that had been victimized by the people Bevin pardoned were understandably outraged.
On Twitter, Bevin pushed back against “suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process,” calling such allegations “both highly offensive and entirely false.” He also wrote he issued the pardons because “America is a nation that was established with an understanding and support for redemption and second chances.”
The pardon of Baker, the man convicted of homicide whose family had contributed thousands of dollars to Bevin’s campaign, generated special criticism, with Republican Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele calling into question why–if the pardon was based upon disagreement with the verdict– Bevin didn’t pardon Baker’s co-conspirators.
There were other mystifying pardons: a man named Hurt had been convicted of sexually abusing his 6-year-old stepdaughter in 2001, and several judges had subsequently refused to overturn his conviction despite his stepdaughter retracting her allegations. (The retraction came after a judge was accused of inappropriately meddling in the case.) Bevin simply ignored the considered decision of several judges who presumably had access to all of the evidence.
He pardoned a child rapist because, he said, the hymen of the 9-year-old victim was still intact, despite medical consensus that most child victims do not show evidence of physical damage and that examination of the tissue is not a reliable test of sexual activity.
Bevin pardoned a friend of his sister, who had been convicted in a 2013 plot to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband and his new wife.
Bevin pardoned Delmar Partin, who killed his former lover then chopped off her head and stuffed her body in a 55-gallon drum destined for a toxic waste site. He pardoned
Kathy Harless, who was sentenced to life in prison for throwing her baby in a cesspool after giving birth in a flea market outhouse. The list goes on.
It’s hard to know what to make of this burst of “compassion.” Bevin was an unusually unpopular governor who frequently seemed to go out of his way to be unpleasant. He reversed his predecessor’s decision to expand Medicaid, denying thousands of poor Kentuckians access to health insurance, and took other punitive actions that make it hard to attribute these pardons to a misplaced kindheartedness, or to credit his claimed belief in “redemption.”
He just seems intent upon outdoing his fellow Republicans in inflicting damage and creating chaos.