Could Biden Nomination of Bevin/Cameron Lawyer Shift Pardon Liability?

An attorney that helped issue one of the most controversial pardons from the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin is about to be nominated to a lifetime appointment for federal judge thanks to a deal between Sen. Mitch McConnell and President Joe Biden, according to the Courier-Journal.

The newspaper reports Chad Meredith will be nominated by Biden in a deal with McConnell in exchange for the Senate leader agreeing not to delay future federal nominations from the White House.

Beyond the national repercussions, the nomination could have political implications in the upcoming Kentucky gubernatorial election, as the pardon issue for Bevin could become partially shared and thus diminished by McConnell and Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

Bevin has been considering a run for governor, but unlike most politicians who see a bump in their popularity and drop-in name identification with voters, Bevin’s negatives remain high as does his name id. His largest hurdle is the pardons, and in a strange stroke of politics, the lawyers who helped work on the pardons are now deeply tied to McConnell and Cameron.

McConnell will now be tied to the pardons with his involvement in this nomination, and Cameron has hired several of the lawyers and former Bevin staffers who worked on the pardons in his current office as Attorney General – including Meredith and Steve Pitt.

The Courier-Journal reports that Meredith worked on the pardon of Patrick Baker, who was convicted of killing a man in a robbery. Baker’s family hosted a fundraiser for Bevin’s 2019 re-election bid. Meredith sought to distance himself from the work, telling the Courier via his lawyer that he had “no meaningful involvement” with the controversial pardon.

Cameron hired Meredith as his Solicitor General in the AG’s Office. The GOP gubernatorial primary contender also hired Steve Pitt as his counsel and top adviser, when he was elected as Attorney General. It was Pitt who recommended some of the controversial pardons while working for Bevin. Pitt resigned from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office in June of 2020.

McConnell and Cameron co-signing the lawyers who worked on and in some instances recommended the controversial pardons could be all the room Bevin needs to muddy the waters and enter into a crowded GOP gubernatorial primary.