Politics & Government

Matt Bevin spends first working day ‘organizing’

A new sign hangs from the front door of the governor's office in the Kentucky Capitol.
A new sign hangs from the front door of the governor's office in the Kentucky Capitol. Lexington Herald-Leader

Gov. Matt Bevin and his team spent much of their first full working day in the Capitol focusing on what they called “operations and government functions.”

That was a fancy way of saying they spent Wednesday arranging their offices, learning how the computers and phones work, and locating the bathrooms.

Bevin, who enjoyed a spectacle-filled Inaugural Day on Tuesday that featured about 600 military veterans in a parade, made no public appearances or appointments and signed no executive orders.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the governor came into his office about mid-morning after making several phone calls. She said his entire team “met to talk about finding out where they will work and what they immediately need to do.”

“Everyone recognized beforehand that this day would be set aside for settling in,” Ditto said.

Bevin already has made several appointments, but several major posts remain vacant, including secretaries of the justice and transportation cabinets and commissioner of the state police.

Ditto said salaries for Bevin’s cabinet secretaries, chief of staff and general counsel will be $130,476. According to state salary data, cabinet secretaries under former Gov. Steve Beshear earned $137,865 in 2013-14.

After six months, salaries for those positions will rise to $137,000, said Ditto.

A new metal sign was in place outside the governor’s first-floor office in the Capitol, letting people know that Matthew G. Bevin is now the governor instead of Steve Beshear.

A few doors away, another new sign was present. It identified Glenna R. Bevin with the “Office of the First Lady.” Like other recent first ladies, Bevin’s wife has an office with staff in the Capitol.

On Tuesday, Bevin appointed Sarah Durand of Louisville to be chief of staff for the first lady. Durand was president of the Louisville Tea Party before stepping aside in 2013 to become Bevin’s spokeswoman in his unsuccessful 2014 campaign for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

On the state website for the first lady, Glenna Bevin said “her heart lies with Kentucky’s children and families. My top priority as first lady is to help build stronger families, and this includes reducing child abuse throughout our commonwealth.”

She said she looks forward to partnering with child abuse prevention and treatment organizations, “and fighting alongside them to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

As a mother of nine children — four of whom are adopted, Glenna Bevin said she also is concerned by the obstacles faced by Kentucky families trying to adopt.

“I plan to work to make adoption simpler and more affordable, while helping would-be parents navigate the adoption process,” Glenna Bevin said. “It is my hope for every child in Kentucky to grow up in a loving home, and I am committed to working to move us closer to that goal.”