Former Gov. Matt Bevin responded to a swirl of controversy over his pardons and commutations he signed on Monday with a tweet storm on Friday. It was his first public statements.
In a string of 20 tweets on Friday night, Bevin defended his decisions, saying America was built on “support for redemption and second chances.”
Bevin pardoned and/or commuted the sentences of 661 people in 2019, according to the Secretary of State’s office. More than 400 of those came on Monday after losing his reelection bid to Andy Beshear on Nov. 5.
“Each case had its own set of facts, evidence, lack of evidence, supporting documents, reasons and unique details, most of which the arm-chair critics are not aware of,” Bevin wrote. “Am I perfect? No...Never have been...But I did my very best, over many hours, days, weeks and years, to reach fair and just decisions ... Not one person receiving a pardon would I not welcome as a co-worker, neighbor, or to sit beside me or any member of my family in a church pew or at a public event.”
Bevin claims to have reviewed every application on his own and “personally wrote every word of justification for each pardon granted and each sentence commuted.”
The pardons for those involved in some of the more heinous crimes drew the ire of state prosecutors and state politicians, including Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate President Robert Stivers, who called for a federal investigation. Several state lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, want Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron, who takes office Tuesday, to appoint a special prosecutor or a bipartisan team to probe some of the ex-governor’s pardons.
Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and Rep. Chris Harris, D-Pikeville, held a press conference on Friday to talk specifically about the pardon that Bevin gave to Patrick Baker, who was serving a 20-year sentence for murdering someone during an attempted robbery in Knox County. Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held a fundraiser for Bevin in 2018.
In another tweet, Bevin said all that is unnecessary.
“The myriad statements and suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process, are both highly offensive and entirely false...,” Bevin wrote. “To repeat such uncorroborated rumors and lies is reprehensible.”
Bevin tweeted “no community is either more or less safe now, than it was before the pardons and commutations given over the past four years. Good arguments could, in fact, be made to the contrary, based on what the earlier recipients of such actions have done with their lives in recent months and years.”