Politics & Government

Bevin says he didn’t order Jane Beshear’s name removed from building

Gov. Matt Bevin distanced himself Wednesday from the removal of former first lady Jane Beshear’s name from the Capitol Education Center on the grounds of the Capitol.

Bevin told reporters he didn’t decide to remove signs and plaques in the center bearing her name.

The Herald-Leader reported last week that the Bevin administration removed Jane Beshear’s name from the center and plans to rename the building to honor Kentucky’s military heritage with the goal of special recognition to Kentucky’s “Gold Star” families — those who have lost loved ones in war.

Bevin seemed unaware Wednesday when first asked why he removed the name of the wife of former Gov. Steve Beshear from the center.

“I don’t even know what you are talking about,” he first said. He then said he was familiar with the newspaper article and said he understands that the center is “in front of an education building somewhere here at the Capitol.” He said he has yet to see where it is. The center is next to the Governor’s Mansion.

Asked who removed the Jane Beshear signs, Bevin said, “Probably done by our, the people who do all of our administration landscaping, buildings, etc.”

Asked whether he would keep a plaque in the center or put up again the signs to honor Jane Beshear, Bevin said the issue is “not even on my radar screen of importance,” adding that he didn’t mean to be disrespectful. “We will figure that out sometime in the future.”

He told reporters, “It’s not even worth one drop of ink from any of you.”

Bevin, a Republican who took office in December, said he was focusing on governing Kentucky and was more concerned about education, workforce development and public pension programs.

Former Gov. Beshear had no immediate comment Wednesday on Bevin’s comments.

Beshear named the center in November in honor of his wife. He said she was responsible for securing private donations to help outfit the center, including $250,000 from Duke Energy, and appliances for the center’s kitchen from General Electric.

Bevin and the Beshears have been at odds since early in the Bevin administration.

Bevin removed Jane Beshear in May as a member of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, an appointment Steve Beshear had made. The two governors have accused each other of corruption in their administrations, and the Beshears’ son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, has taken Bevin to court for making midyear university budget cuts and revamping governing boards.

Steve Beshear said last week that “it’s certainly the governor’s prerogative to change the name on this building if he chooses,” but that he hoped Bevin would leave a plaque inside the center that would tell military families how his wife worked on it.

The building was built in 1988 to house heating and cooling equipment for the Capitol campus. As the campus grew, more space was needed for equipment, and it was moved to a different location, leaving the building empty and unused.

Jack Brammer: 502-227-1198, @BGPolitics