State Watch

Former Kentucky Gov. Bevin defends pardons amid backlash

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) issued a series of tweets late Friday defending himself amid scrutiny of hundreds of pardons and commutations he issued before leaving office.

Bevin, who lost his reelection bid last month, has faced backlash from some state lawmakers for the pardons he signed on his way out of office, with one of the pardons being for a man convicted of reckless homicide whose brother hosted a fundraiser for Bevin’s campaign.

As many as 161 pardons and 419 commutations of sentences were filed Dec. 11, CNN reported, citing updates to the Kentucky secretary of state’s website. That included commutations for more than 300 people serving sentences for drug-related charges.

“The vast majority of those who were pardoned, have actually been out of prison for years and had fully paid their debt to society,” Bevin wrote in a 20-tweet thread. “The myriad statements and suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process, are both highly offensive and entirely false.”

He added that “to repeat such uncorroborated rumors and lies is reprehensible.”

The series of tweets broke days of silence from Bevin as he received criticism from members of both parties.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had criticized Bevin’s actions while filing for reelection in Kentucky on Friday, calling them “completely inappropriate.”

“I expect he had the power to do it, but looking at the examples of people who were incarcerated as a result of heinous crimes — no, I don’t approve of it,” McConnell said. 

Bevin insisted that he reviewed every application on his own and wrote every word of justification for each pardon granted and each sentence commuted.

Local media noted that the list of pardons included a man convicted of killing his parents, a man convicted of decapitating a woman and stuffing her in a barrel, and a woman convicted of leaving her newborn son to die.

“Each case had its own set of facts, evidence, lack of evidence, supporting documents, reasons and unique details, most of which the arm-chair critics are not aware of,” Bevin wrote on Twitter.

“Am I perfect? No…Never have been…But I did my very best, over many hours, days, weeks and years, to reach fair and just decisions,” Bevin added.

Democrat Andy Beshear defeated Bevin in the November election and was officially sworn in as governor of Kentucky this week. 

Tags Mitch McConnell

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