Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday named one of his political supporters to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, giving himself a majority on the board just as it’s expected to hear two complaints alleging that he bought a mansion at a below-market rate from another political appointee.
Owensboro lawyer Kenneth Timothy Kline gave $200 to Bevin’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the Kentucky House in 2012.
On Monday, the commission is scheduled to consider whether to investigate the complaints against Bevin regarding a house and 10 acres in the Jefferson County suburb of Anchorage that he bought in March from Louisville businessman Neil Ramsey for $1.6 million. The Jefferson County property valuation administrator says the house and 19-acre tract, of which Bevin now owns 10 acres, is worth $2,974,000.
The commission also will consider a related request by Attorney General Andy Beshear, who asked the commission whether it would violate ethics rules governing political rivals if he launches his own investigation of Bevin’s purchase.
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With Kline’s appointment Friday, the five-member ethics panel is now comprised of three Bevin appointees and two members appointed by former Gov. Steve Beshear, who is Andy Beshear’s father. Bevin is a Republican; the Beshears are Democrats.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Bevin’s lawyer is scheduled to challenge the assessed value of the home before the Jefferson County Local Board of Assessment Appeals.
Bevin argues that the Jefferson County property valuation administrator, Democrat Tony Lindauer, didn’t take into account that Bevin bought only 10 acres of a surrounding 19-acre lot, that the land he bought wasn’t the most valuable of the 19 acres, that the house is old and in disrepair, and that the value should more closely resemble the $2.2 million value placed on the home and land by the city of Anchorage. Ramsey is a city councilman in Anchorage.
The appeals board is appointed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat.
If Bevin isn’t satisfied with the board’s decision, he can appeal to the Kentucky Claims Commission, which consists of three members appointed by Bevin.