FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky House Democrats announced a trio of bills aimed at putting tighter restrictions on statewide officeholders.
The three bills Democrats introduced Monday have to deal with election issues, two of which actually pertain to the elections themselves. The other deals with an issue that has been talked about a lot on the campaign trail: the use of taxpayer-funded airplanes.
“Our three bills take different approaches, but they share a common goal: To increase accountability and transparency in the constitutional state offices,” Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, said.
A bill filed by Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg, would bolster reporting requirements for the use of state resources, like plane usage.
Gov. Matt Bevin came under fire for his use of the state’s plane on out of state trips. Last month, he released a log of his travels from 2015 to this August.
“We have been told recently that the governor’s expenditures and his disclosures have been following the law,” Hatton said. “If that is the case, then we have to modify the law because the disclosures have been woefully incomplete.”
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Bevin didn’t include at least 28 trips on the log. Those were reimbursed by the governor or other groups, totaling $163,000.
Hatton wants to see more specifics when it comes to any use of taxpayer dollars, including a reason for using state resources for non-public purposes and who paid for them.
“This is a time of budget cuts. When we’re told that we don’t have the money to even pay for long-promised retirement benefits for our teachers and that we have to cut paychecks and benefits for our retirees,” Hatton said. “If this is a time when the budget is that tight, we need to know how state resources are being used.”
Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, announced a bill to limit how long a candidate can accept donations for past campaigns.
Democrats claim Bevin continued holding campaign events for years to pay off loans he made to his own campaign in 2015.
“You can’t run around and tell people that you are not beholden (to special interests) and then as soon as you’re in a position of special influence, start recouping that money,” Jenkins said.
Graham, the House Democratic Caucus chair, authored a bill to require anyone running for a statewide office to release three years of their tax returns.
He said those reports would help voters decide if there are any conflicts of interest.
“If a candidate is willing to take on this public duty, then he or she should be prepared to withstand the closer scrutiny which will take place,” Graham said. “It is a process that has worked for decades and it should continue.”
In an emailed statement, Bevin campaign manager Davis Paine said the announcement was a political stunt.
“This is nothing more than a political stunt three weeks before an election,” Paine said. “If the Democrats were truly interested in transparency, they would require Andy Beshear to disclose how much he profited from representing Purdue Pharma.”
Democrats don’t plan to actually file the bills until early 2020 and Graham says the decision to file those bills will not be impacted by who wins the race for governor.