KFP Juice Bar: Beshear Pushes Back on Administration Transparency Problem

Despite holding 800 press conferences where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear answers COVID and other related questions, journalists in the state are getting fed up with being stymied in their dealings with the cabinets in Beshear’s administration.

Two journalists took to Twitter this week in an airing of grievances against the Beshear administration’s handling of the media, and the chatter is rising into an echo.

It started with WFPL Energy and Environment reporter Ryan Van Velzer belaboring another declined interview request from the administration.

Lo and behold, Lexington Herald-Leader Government Accountability reporter John Cheves, took to the defense of Van Velzer with an account of his own. Cheves said he could not recall meeting or speaking with a Beshear administration “communications official”, he told the WFPL journalist if he’s lucky he might get a formal written statement.

Cheves waded deeper into the debacle comparing the Beshear administration to five previous administrations – calling Gov. Andy Beshear’s time in power as the “least transparent.”

The statement from Cheves raised lots of whispered conversations this week. Podcast host Robert Kahne, a member of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, defended Beshear’s handling of journalists questions. Other Democrats quietly told KFP this does not look good for Beshear, adding if he wants to control his message as he runs for re-election the governor will need to be less defensive in his approach.

In addition, both Joe Ragusta of Spectrum News and Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV jumped online recently to lament the lack of responses and denials of interviews from Beshear administration officials.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, compared the journalists lack of interaction with the administration to that of GOP lawmakers.

“It seems the press enjoys nearly as much dialogue with the executive branch as we do in the legislative branch,” Westerfield wrote on Twitter.

During a press conference on Thursday, Beshear told reporters that he is more available to journalists than previous Gov. Matt Bevin to answer questions.

“At this point I think I’ve done more hours of press conferences and more questions than the first 62 governors of Kentucky put together,” Beshear said. “We provide people with interviews regularly, but not always.”

“This is an administration that speaks in one voice,” Beshear continued, adding he carries the blame when another official in his administration speaks and that he is not satisfied with issues related to unemployment insurance.

STAFF MOVES: Gov. Beshear continues to shift personnel. Earlier this month Kenneth Bishop was moved from his post within the Transportation Cabinet. Bishop will effectively be the point person for the Beshear administration in their outreach to lawmakers during the upcoming. Bishop’s new title is Acting Executive Director of the Legislative Affairs Office. Beshear’s communications director did not respond to two emails in recent weeks seeking confirmation of the staff move, or of the agenda for the administration in the upcoming legislative session.

ROAD CLOSURE: Citing domestic terrorism risks Gov. Beshear shutdown a one-way road that runs between the state Capitol and the Capitol Annex Building this week.

SPOTTED: Kentuckian J. Todd Inman, the former chief-of-staff for the U.S. Department of Transportation under Sec. Elaine Chao, appeared in Florida this week. Inman, who was previously an Owensboro insurance agent, headlined the annual meeting for Florida Tax Watch.

Image Courtesy: @FloridaTaxWatch Twitter

FEC Clears Matt Jones. After two-years the Federal Election Commission has cleared Matt Jones after a complaint from the Republican Party of Kentucky alleged Jones was using a his show to promote himself in a run against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Jones was temporarily dropped from the station after the complaint.

KY Board of Elections: Executive Director Jared Dearing is rumored to be leaving his post at the beginning of November. Dearing is married to Heather Dearing who Kentucky Fried Politics previously reported was moved from her position as the Dir. of Legislative Affairs into Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman’s office as an Administrative Assistant to the Lt. Governor.

VOTING STARTS THURSDAY: Thursday marked the first day of early voting in the three special elections taking place in Kentucky. Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, is Election Day.

POLITICAL MANEUVERING: Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron could make it more difficult for rural Democrats to get elected. Cameron is pressing the U.S. Supreme Court to allow him to defend a Kentucky abortion law. The move comes as Roe v. Wade is essentially being considered once again by the high court. For rural Kentucky Democrats it puts them in a vice. A McConnell-vellian move on it’s own, the move will also seek to re-establish Cameron in Kentucky and around the nation after facing backlash for his handling of the Breonna Taylor case. Cameron has filed to run for a second-term as Attorney General.

LEGISLATIVE RETIREMENT: After 10-years in the state Senate, Democratic Minority Whip Dennis Parrett has announced he will not seek another term in office. Read more at Kentucky Fried.

ON THE MOVE: McCarthy Strategic Solutions announced Morgan P’Pool joined the firm on Monday as its first Director of Communications and Client Experience. P’Pool served as the Deputy Director of Communications for the Kentucky Senate Majority since 2018.

BIRTHDAYS: KET host Renee Shaw turned 49 on Oct. 26. CNN contributor and PR owner-operator Scott Jennings also celebrated a birthday on Tuesday.

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