Republican state senators had an opportunity Wednesday to correct a couple of wrongs they committed Tuesday night. Instead, they reaffirmed those wrongs.
At issue were two motions for reconsideration of the votes by which the Senate rejected the appointments of two women named to the state Parole Board by Gov. Steve Beshear. Both motions offered by Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, were defeated.
In all, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected eight Beshear appointments, several of whom had held their jobs for months. One of the rejections at least made a certain kind of sense.
Thomas Whetstone, also a Parole Board member, recently made news by getting into a scuffle with board Chairman Verman Winborn during an argument over the color Whetstone painted his office door.
Thus, temperament issues provided some justification for overlooking Whetstone's qualifications and rejecting his appointment by a 30-6 vote that was bipartisan in nature.
But there was no apparent reason for the other seven rejections, and Senate Republicans refused Democrats' request for information about the handling of the confirmation process or the reasons for the rejections. It is telling that the process did not include interviews with the appointees, or even so much as a phone call to them.
Although all seven seemed qualified for confirmation, three of the rejections, including the two women named to the Parole Board, stand out because of the obvious depth and breadth of experience they brought to the jobs Beshear selected them to fill.
Joe Childers, a lawyer with years of experience litigating cases related to coal mining and mine safety issues, may be as qualified as anyone in Kentucky to serve on the Mine Safety Review Commission. His bona fides in this area were sufficient to make him a finalist when the Obama administration was choosing someone to lead the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Childers' rejection by Senate Republicans might be chalked up to philosophical differences because he has championed environmental causes they oppose. But something else appeared to be at work in the rejections of Monica Ann Edmonds and Maria Mooney.
Edmonds has a bachelor's degree in police administration with a minor in corrections from Eastern Kentucky University. Before joining the Parole Board, she spent more than 10 years working for the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, where she oversaw the work release program. Earlier in her career, she did a stint supervising a halfway house for female inmates. She is recognized for her expertise in dealing with inmates' re-entry into society.
Mooney is a lawyer whose background includes nine years working for the state Department of Public Advocacy representing defendants in all kinds of criminal cases. Her experience led Neal to describe her on the Senate floor Wednesday as "a person of high training, totally prepared, no scandal attached."
Certainly, these two women were more than qualified to serve on the Parole Board. So, what prompted Senate Republicans to reject them? We don't know, and Senate Republicans aren't talking.
But we would note a couple of other characteristics Edmonds and Mooney brought to the Parole Board. Edmonds was the only African-American woman on the board, and Mooney was the first Hispanic to serve on the panel.
And obviously, they are both women, a gender whose interests fared poorly this year in the Senate, which mandated ultrasounds before abortions and refused to extend domestic-violence protections to daters.
It's troubling to think racism or sexism had anything to do with the Senate's action on these two appointments. But Senate Republicans' refusal to offer a reasonable explanation for rejecting these highly qualified minority women brought that possibility into consideration.