When considering the contributions of Sen. Albert Robinson, who better to consult than Jesus Christ?
Robinson is best known for his shows of devotion to God, guns and discrimination against gays and his disdain for the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. Most recently he won an edict that legislative resolutions and floor citations shall be dated “in the Year of our Lord.”
Robinson, who told the Herald-Leader’s Jack Brammer that he is “trying anywhere and everywhere I can to respect our creator,” represents a skinny district that snakes nearly the width of the state from his native Laurel County in the south to Bath County in the north. The New Testament makes no mention of gerrymandering, so forget that for now.
The Good Book does provide guidance about how to view leaders. “You will know them by their fruits,” Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. Let us then consider Robinson’s fruits as a public servant.
Most famously, in the dying hours of the 2000 session Robinson fattened his pension and the pensions of his fellow lawmakers. Many legislators insisted they had no idea they were voting to enrich themselves, though they defended their plumper pensions all the way to the state Supreme Court, which struck down the stealth amendment in part because Robinson admitted his goal was to sneak it into law. Robinson, a Republican, was not among the 12 sponsors this year of a new law that will subject lawmakers’ state pensions to public disclosure.
He did sponsor the National Rifle Association’s quest to put concealed weapons in the hands of 18-year-olds and end training to carry concealed firearms. Not even our gun-loving legislature was ready to stomach that one and it died.
Aside from the Year of our Lord, Robinson’s sole legislative accomplishment this year was a constitutionally questionable law condoning discrimination on religious or political grounds by student groups sponsored by public schools and colleges. On the up side, as far as we know, he did nothing to directly enrich himself like in 2000 when he misused his influence to get a road built that no local officials had sought but that increased the value of property he was marketing through his real estate business.
Robinson’s main use to Republican Senate leaders is chairing a committee where they send legislation to die, most tragically the statewide smoke-free law approved by the House in 2015 that would have shielded Kentucky children from asthma and saved lives.
In a Passover season long ago, Jesus said “woe to” sanctimonious leaders who make a show of their piety and “look like righteous people, but inwardly ... are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Can we get an Amen?