Gov. Matt Bevin seems to believe in nothing so much as his own purity of motive but, as an elected official, he owes the public more.
Specifically, he owes the public details about the transaction in which a political supporter who he appointed to a powerful state board, apparently sold him a mansion on 10 acres for $1.6 million, although public records put the value at about $2.5 million.
We say “apparently” because the house in the exclusive Louisville suburb of Anchorage was purchased by a company, Anchorage Place LLC, whose ownership hasn’t been revealed.
Bevin has been tight-lipped about the entire deal since the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus first reported on it in early April.
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Thanks to Loftus, we now also know that well before the sale in March the state began paying for security enhancements at the property.
Indeed, that work was requested and largely completed even before the former owner, Neil Ramsey, briefly advertised the property for sale in February.
Ramsey told Loftus that, even though “most of the details” had been worked out, he advertised because “I was concerned that the buyer might change their mind.”
The relationship between Bevin and Ramsey goes beyond this transaction.
In 2015 and 2016 Ramsey and his wife, who live next door to the house the Bevins now occupy, gave $39,000 in total to Bevin, the Republican Party in Kentucky and Bevin’s inauguration. Last June, Bevin upended the board that oversaw Kentucky’s public retirement systems, enlarging it and replacing old members with new ones.
Among those appointed to oversee $16 billion in retirement investments is Ramsey, the founder of the investment firm RQSI, or Ramsey Quantitative Systems, Inc. Ramsey is also president and CEO of Conficare, which develops nursing homes, and other senior facilities.
We have written before that the governor’s about-face on releasing his tax returns — he promised to do so if elected but hasn’t — opens him to legitimate questions about his personal financial dealings.
This too-curious, too-favorable house deal raises even more questions:
▪ If Bevin and/or members of his family bought the house, how was the price determined?
▪ If others own Anchorage Place LLC, who are they and what are the Bevins paying to live there?
▪ If the deal really wasn’t solid in February, why did the state begin installing security equipment — a legitimate expense on a governor’s personal home — in October 2016?
▪ Do Ramsey and Bevin, who operated an investment firm before entering politics, have any other business relationships?
▪ And, finally, how much does state government interact with Ramsey’s firms, in terms of licensure or oversight or in other ways?
Bevin talks a lot about “cleaning up the mess” in Frankfort. Before he can do that he must get his own house deal in order.