After narrowly losing his re-election bid last month, Kentucky’s then-governor, Republican Matt Bevin, turned his attention to criminal-justice issues, issuing hundreds of controversial pardons and commutations, benefiting a wide range of convicted criminals, including murderers and a man convicted of raping a child.
A local prosecutor called Bevin’s actions “an absolute atrocity of justice,” which put Kentucky residents “in danger.”
But prosecutors weren’t the only ones alarmed by the former governor’s intervention in so many cases. It appears the FBI has also decided to take a closer look at Bevin’s actions. The Courier Journal in Louisville reported this week:
The FBI is asking questions about the pardons Matt Bevin issued during his last weeks as Kentucky governor, The Courier Journal has learned.
State Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, told reporters that a criminal investigator contacted him last week and asked what he knew about Bevin’s pardons…. Two sources with knowledge of the inquiry told The Courier Journal on Monday that an FBI agent had spoken with Harris.
Bevin did not comment when asked about the FBI’s reported interest. The Kentucky Republican last week, however, tried to defend some of his more scandalous decisions, saying he commuted the sentence of a man convicted of raping a young girl in part because the girl’s hymen was “intact.” (In a study published in June in Reproductive Health journal, the authors wrote, “An examination of the hymen is not an accurate or reliable test of a previous history of sexual activity, including sexual assault. Clinicians tasked with performing forensic sexual assault examinations should avoid descriptions such as ‘intact hymen’ or ‘broken hymen’ in all cases.”)
As for which case – or cases – might be of interest to the FBI, it’s difficult to say without more information, though one pardon stood out as an example of possible corruption. NBC News reported:
Bevin pardoned Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide and other crimes in a fatal 2014 home break-in in Knox County. Prosecutors say Baker and another man posed as police officers to gain entry to Donald Mills’ home, and Mills was shot in front of his wife.
Baker’s family raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year for Bevin and Baker’s brother and sister-in-law also gave $4,000 to Bevin’s re-election campaign on the day of the fundraiser, the Courier Journal reported.
The FBI wouldn’t scrutinize a governor’s misguided judgment or even pardons that threaten public safety. But possible corruption is another matter entirely.