With stunning pardons, defeated GOP governor accused of 'atrocity'

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks during the Indiana Republican Party Spring Dinner, April 21, 2016, in Indianapolis. (Photo by Darron Cummings/AP)
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks during the Indiana Republican Party Spring Dinner, April 21, 2016, in Indianapolis.

Despite Donald Trump's furious efforts, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) lost his re-election bid last month, an embarrassing failure for a red-state Republican who expected to win. The outgoing GOP governor soon after began making plans to help with the transition to a new gubernatorial administration.

But that's not all he did. The Courier-Journal in Louisville reported this week on Bevin's decision to issue 428 pardons and commutations, some of which were very controversial.

The family of a man pardoned by Gov. Matt Bevin for a homicide and other crimes in a fatal 2014 Knox County home invasion raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year to retire debt from Bevin's 2015 gubernatorial campaign. [...]The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents.

The Lexington Herald-Leader had a related report yesterday, noting that Bevin, before leaving office, also intervened in support of a man who was convicted of decapitating a woman who broke up with him, and a teacher who was convicted of possessing child pornography.

The article quoted a local prosecutor saying, in reference to Bevin, "I think it's arrogance of one who has a God-like image of himself. And a lack of concern for anybody else."

The Washington Post talked to a different local prosecutor who added, "What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice. He's put victims, he's put others in our community in danger."

What obviously matters most in a story like this is the integrity of the criminal justice system, the victims' families, public safety, and concerns about possible corruption.

But to the extent that electoral considerations matter at all, I think Matt Bevin also just lit his political future on fire.