Editorials

Bevin should take on real nepotism

Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear answered questions during an exit interview at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, Ky., on Nov. 17, 2015. Beshear's second term ends in early December when Governor-elect Matt Bevin is sworn in.
Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear answered questions during an exit interview at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, Ky., on Nov. 17, 2015. Beshear's second term ends in early December when Governor-elect Matt Bevin is sworn in. palcala@herald-leader.com

Bipartisanship, we know, is easier talked about than practiced, regardless of political party.

That said, the response of Gov. Matt Bevin’s spokesperson Jessica Ditto to outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear’s appointment of his wife, Jane, to the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, was way, way over the top. “Self-serving,” an “embarrassment,” Ditto said.

Not quite. It’s a position for which she is well suited, in part because she’s served on the commission before. An accomplished horsewoman, Jane Beshear has also served as an unpaid, member of the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and on the board that oversaw the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Horse Park. As first lady the last eight years, she has worked to promote tourism, particularly the Kentucky Trail Town program that promotes adventure tourism throughout the state for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders.

It’s important to note that membership on the Horse Park Commission is unpaid and doesn’t give Jane Beshear the right to hire anyone or hand out juicy contracts. Nonetheless, Ditto wrote in an email about the appointment, “the days of elected leaders treating Kentuckians with disrespect are over.”

The Bevin administration should attack the disrespect of nepotism in Kentucky government. It cold do that by leading the charge to ban the common and self-serving practice of hiring relatives among elected county clerks, like Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis who both worked for her mother in the clerk’s office for years and hired her own son when she was elected. Or among the elected jailers, even those who don’t operate jails, who hire family members routinely.

Taking on the entrenched interests, in both major parties, that defend these practices would be a true service to Kentucky.

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