Matt Bevin, Formerly Our Nation’s Trumpiest Governor, Has Created a Real Mess for Himself

“Am I perfect? No…”

Paul Boucher/Zuma

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Matt Bevin, former Republican governor of Kentucky, exited office less than a week ago after narrowly losing his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear only to land himself in the middle of a new controversy. On his way out of the governor’s mansion, the Republican issued at least 419 commutations and 161 pardons. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, “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 those pardoned reportedly have ties to Bevin’s political donors. One man pardoned for homicide is from a family that raised $21,500 to relieve Bevin’s campaign debt from his 2015 campaign.

Bevin took to Twitter on Friday to defend himself in a 20-part thread: 

Bevin is now facing condemnation from members of his own party. On Friday, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers called for a federal investigation. “From what we know of former Governor Bevin’s extreme pardons and commutations, the Senate Republican Majority condemns his actions as a travesty and perversion of justice,” Stivers said. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the pardons “completely inappropriate. I expect he has the power to do it, but looking at the examples of people who were incarcerated as the result of heinous crimes, no, I don’t approve of them.”

In a profile this fall, my colleague Patrick Caldwell wrote that Bevin’s reelection, in theory, should’ve been a cinch. But apparently the Trumpiest governor in the country, couldn’t get out of his own way:

Bevin’s unpopularity appears to be less about Kentuckians rejecting his conservative agenda than voters growing tired of their governor’s unfiltered, Trumpian persona and penchant for generating headlines with ill-advised remarks. “Many Kentuckians see their governor as the personification of the state,” says Al Cross, the longtime dean of the state’s political press at the Louisville Courier-Journal and now a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky. “And this is a state that often comes in for ridicule. Socioeconomically and demographically, culturally, we get looked down on by people on the coasts. And often get made fun of. And Kentuckians are sensitive to that. They don’t want their governor to be a jerk.”

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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