An Eastern Kentucky Republican lawmaker who urged his congregation and community to not wear masks or take the vaccine has a checkered past.
Lawmakers returned on Tuesday to the state Capitol to draw up a new two-year state budget, amid calls for the General Assembly to also revisit COVID precautions as a new variant spreads through the nation and Kentucky.
First term Rep. Bill (Billy) Wesley, R-Ravenna, made local waves in mid-2021 when he took to his Facebook page to urge his community against the COVID vaccine and against wearing masks, now a deeper dive into his background shows a history that includes bankruptcies and an assault charge that has been dismissed after remaining open for a decade.
In 1993, Wesley was charged with assault in Vermillion, Ohio. According to court records first obtained by Kentucky Fried Politics, a state arrest warrant was issued on June 1, 1993, for the now Kentucky lawmaker. Ten-years later in February of 2003, the case was dismissed by the prosecution.
The two documents, warrant and dismissal, were the only documents in possession of the court, and clerks could not immediately answer why the case had been dropped or left open for a decade.
A review of Wesley’s background also shows voluntary petitions for chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy starting in the year 2000. According to court filings, Wesley filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in June of 2000. The Chapter 7 process concluded in Nov. of 2000. In 2012, Wesley again sought bankruptcy this time he filed Chapter 13 in Aug. of 2012. A final decree for Chapter 13 was entered on Jan. 19, 2018. Wesley’s debts included J.C. Penny, Sears, Lowes, Macy’s, Capital One, and others, according to a review of the court records.
Wesley was sworn-in to office in Jan. of 2021, and in his first term he took a hard stance against COVID. In a since deleted Facebook post in August of 2021, Wesley urged Kentuckians not to take the vaccine.
At the time the Breathitt Co. Democratic Party blasted the GOP lawmaker, saying he “failed in this time of crisis. When we needed him to lead he did not.”
A spokesperson for House Republicans did not return multiple requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday from Rep. Wesley for this story.