FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Republican Gov. Matt Bevin took to Twitter to duel with a feuding lawmaker and later, in an impromptu press conference outside the Capitol, took protesting teachers to task.
Rep. Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, responded to a series of tweets from Bevin urging the General Assembly to leave his vetoes alone and let him call a special session so they could take another shot at tax reform and a balanced budget.
“You can’t cut $600 million from education, as the governor did, and expect young people to not be adversely affected. You can’t cut $600 million from education, as the governor did, and expect to grow our workforce. You can’t cut $600 million from education and expect our elementary schools and our high schools and our colleges to be all things to all students. We understand, you cannot do that.
“Maybe our governor doesn’t understand that the General Assembly is a separate and equal branch of government,” Hoover said. “Maybe he doesn’t understand the importance of legislative independence. Maybe he doesn’t understand that the legislative branch doesn’t work for the executive branch, we work for the people of Kentucky.”
He urged both parties to work together on a solution. “Let’s move forward and show that we have a plan to fill the gaps in funding for education. We’re going to do that because we are the people’s branch of government.”
Bevin quickly took to Twitter to respond to Hoover’s remarks. The governor and former House speaker have never been close.
“The only reason we didn’t 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.”
Hoover replied to Bevin’s tweet outside the House chamber.
“He’s been making those comments for months. They’re absolutely false, but this is coming from a guy who can only get three or four Republicans to support his veto. He needs to be focused on that and the important things in the legislation that we have.”
Bevin wasn’t finished. He also took the protesting teachers to task as around 40 school districts were closed, some at the last minute. Thousands came to the Capitol to demonstrate. During an impromptu gathering with reporters outside the Capitol on Friday evening, Bevin didn’t hold back on his feelings.
“You know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone? I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home, because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said, according to a video posted to Twitter by a reporter for WDRB-TV. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone, because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.
“Children were harmed, some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time, because they were vulnerable and left alone. It’s offensive, frankly.”
Some Republican lawmakers were quick to condemn Bevin’s remarks.
On social media, Sen. Max Wise of Campbellsville posted, “The disgusting comments by Gov. Bevin insinuating that a peaceful protest by teachers would lead to sexual assault are reprehensible. I don’t agree with these comments and I find them repulsive. I disagreed with his radio comments about teachers before, and I disagree with these.”
Rep. Jason Nemes of Louisville said, “Even the notion is preposterous.”
Rep. Julie Raque Adams, when asked if she thinks teachers are to blame for any sexual assaults today, replied, “Of course not.”
The Kentucky Democratic Party also responded to the governor’s comments in a statement.
“It’s entirely inappropriate and perverse that the man sitting in the governorship would criticize Kentuckians who stood up today for teachers, public employees and our public education by insinuating that their presence in Frankfort today caused a child to be sexually assaulted,” Kentucky Democratic Executive Director Mary Nishimuta said. “His insults of teachers over the last year have been beneath the decorum of any respectable elected official. This rhetoric has crossed a line. As a mother, suggesting children were abused as a prop for his political rhetoric is disturbing and absurdly in poor taste.”