Beshear hopes for "final, ultimate decision" by Supreme Court in board reorganization lawsuits

08/23/2016 05:41 PM

LOUISVILLE — Less than a week after he argued against Gov. Matt Bevin’s higher education cuts before the Kentucky Supreme Court, Attorney General Andy Beshear says he ultimately expects to be back in front of the high court as a pair of lawsuits challenging gubernatorial overhauls of boards move through the judicial process.

On Monday, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a temporary injunction that put ousted Kentucky Retirement Systems board chairman Tommy Elliott back on the panel while keeping other aspects of Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order reorganizing the KRS board in place. Last month, Shepherd issued a temporary injunction reinstating the former University of Louisville board that had been removed via executive order by Bevin.

Shepherd has yet to issue a final ruling, and Bevin’s attorneys have appealed the judge’s temporary injunction in the UofL case and have signaled to reporters that the order restoring Elliott to the KRS board will soon be appealed as well.

Regardless of the results, Beshear told Pure Politics on Tuesday that he’s eager for the Kentucky Supreme Court to decide on the lawsuits and “whether the governor has absolute authority as he claims to dissolve any board at any time for any reason.”

“That creates such a huge potential abuse of power with something like the retirement system that manages $16 billion or something like a university board of trustees, which is charged with educating our young men and women, so I want to get to the final decisions on these,” Beshear said after speaking to a group of senior citizens on targeted scams at the Kentucky State Fair.

“I want to push them to the Supreme Court so that we can get that final, ultimate decision, we can all live with it, and then we can move on.”

Bevin’s office, in a statement Monday, said it was confident that Elliott’s reappointment to the KRS board wouldn’t stand on appeal and that Beshear “should drop his politically-motivated lawsuits and stop his efforts to fight transparency and protect the status quo.”

“Under Tommy Elliott’s chairmanship the KRS had an abysmal investment track record and operated under a shroud of secrecy,” the governor’s office said in the statement. “Gov. Bevin will continue fighting to protect the pensions of state workers and bring transparency to state government.”

The high court’s decisions will have long-term impacts for state government, and they’ll likely re-emerge – for better or for worse – throughout Bevin’s and Beshear’s careers in state politics.

Beshear says he’s not worried about the prospects of a courtroom loss hurting his political career.

“I’m going to continue to do my duty, and ultimately at the end of the day if I do a good job in this job, I think the future takes care of itself,” he told Pure Politics.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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