Gov. Bevin says AG Beshear "dropping the ball" in transgender bathroom lawsuit while Beshear says he should have been consulted

05/31/2016 05:41 PM

LOUISVILLE — Gov. Matt Bevin accused Attorney General Andy Beshear of “dropping the ball” by not joining 11 other states in their lawsuit against the federal government’s directive on transgender bathroom policies for public schools.

Beshear, at a separate news conference in Georgetown, said the governor’s statements that the attorney general’s office refused to join the suit “is entirely and totally false,” saying copies of the lawsuit and federal court guidance on the topic were on his desk as Bevin announced on Friday his administration’s decision to take part in the court action.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Texas on Wednesday, follows legal interpretations by President Obama’s administration that say transgender individuals are covered by sexual discrimination laws and that school districts may jeopardize their federal education funding by enacting policies specifying which bathrooms transgender students can use.

Bevin urged Kentucky school districts to ignore that directive.

The governor said Beshear and attorneys general throughout the U.S. were approached about joining the lawsuit, but Bevin said Kentucky’s attorney general “seems to be focused on a different front,” a reference to Beshear’s lawsuit against his administration for current-year cuts to higher education.

That case may go before the Kentucky Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that Bevin acted within his authority.

“The people of Kentucky are appropriately outraged at the idea that the federal government is going to make bathroom policy in our local schools,” Bevin told reporters after a news conference in Louisville on Tuesday. “They ought to be outraged. As governor I find it offensive, and so on behalf of the people of Kentucky, we out of the executive branch have joined this suit.”

Beshear has said his office was never approached about joining the federal lawsuit, a point he reiterated following another news conference in Georgetown on Tuesday. He said his office has stopped its review of the subject and will focus on other matters, such as protecting children from abuse and senior citizens from scams.

“The governor’s statement and claim there isn’t truthful and it’s politics at its worst,” Beshear told reporters, according to a recording provided by the Office of the Attorney General.

“I was reviewing the federal lawsuit. It was on my desk along with the federal court’s guidance at the time the governor made those statements. At no point did the governor ever consult with us, email us or ask us for a meeting.”

“I believe that if the governor was going to criticize anybody for not doing something that he ought to have consulted with them and asked them to,” he added.

But Bevin called such comments “a cop out.”

“He’s brought plenty of suits without my permission thus far,” Bevin said. “It’s a cop out. That’s what people who, frankly, are dropping the ball, they make comments like that. It’s disappointing what has come out of and what has not come out of that office.”

Asked whether his decision to join the transgender bathroom lawsuit reflects his personal views on the subject, Bevin said that’s not at issue.

“It has everything to do with the rule of law and what is constitutionally authorized,” he said. “My responsibility as governor is to represent the will of the people of Kentucky, and that’s exactly what this does.”

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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