Politics & Government

Bevin mocks Jeff Hoover for scandal, ‘hush money’ as they scrap over vetoes

State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said on the House floor Friday that he was “disturbed” that Gov. Matt Bevin “would say that we don’t understand fiscal policy.”
State Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said on the House floor Friday that he was “disturbed” that Gov. Matt Bevin “would say that we don’t understand fiscal policy.”

Gov. Matt Bevin and former House Speaker Jeff Hoover scrapped Friday as the House voted to override Bevin’s veto of the state tax bill, with Hoover knocking Bevin’s attempted education budget cuts and Bevin hitting Hoover for a sex harassment scandal.

Bevin fired off a series of Tweets urging the General Assembly to leave his vetoes alone — he also vetoed their two-year state budget bill — and let him call a special session so they could take a second shot at tax reform and a balanced budget before the current fiscal year ends June 30.

By law, the 2018 legislative session must end Saturday at midnight.

“Let me be very clear,” Bevin tweeted. “The idea that you need to vote for a sloppy, non-transparent bill as the only way to fund education or anything else for that matter, is not true. ... We have time to do this correctly. The people of Kentucky deserve nothing less.”

Minutes later, Hoover rose on the House floor to respond to Bevin’s tweets. Hoover resigned as the House speaker in November following a sexual harassment scandal involving a legislative aide, but he’s still a GOP state representative from Jamestown.

“Maybe the governor doesn’t understand that the General Assembly is a separate and equal branch of government,” Hoover said. “The legislative branch doesn’t work for the executive branch, we work for the people of Kentucky.”

Hoover told his colleagues they should not count on a special session, given that Bevin last year talked “for months upon months, saying he would call a special session to deal with the pension issue and tax reform ... and yet we never had a special session.”

“It disturbs me that this governor would say that we don’t understand fiscal policy and that we don’t understand the budget process,” Hoover said. And he took a poke at cuts in the more austere budget plan that Bevin proposed in January. “I’ll tell you what we do understand: You can’t cut $600 million from education and expect our young people not to be adversely affected.”

Within moments, Bevin tweeted a pointed reference to Hoover’s sex scandal.

“The only reason we did not have a special session last year is because Jeff Hoover, a married man, was sexually involved with a very young, single member of his staff and was paying hush money to hide his actions ... The result was chaos in the KY House that stopped everything,” Bevin tweeted.

Although they are both Republicans, Bevin and Hoover never have been especially close.

In the 2015 gubernatorial election, Hoover backed one of Bevin’s opponents, James Comer, in the GOP primary. Last fall, Hoover emerged as a critic of Bevin’s public pension overhaul plan. When Hoover’s sexual harassment scandal was first publicly disclosed shortly thereafter, Bevin called for Hoover and several other lawmakers named in the scandal to resign from elected office.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics