Once dysfunctional, Gov. Bevin now says former UofL board has illegal political makeup

08/02/2016 04:31 PM

After a judge ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin’s moves to replace the University of Louisville Board of Trustees did not pass legal muster, the governor is calling on Attorney General Andy Beshear to say whether he believes the former board meets legal requirements regarding the panel’s political makeup.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd granted Beshear’s request for a temporary injunction on Friday, finding that Bevin’s actions in abolishing and reconstituting the UofL board overstepped his authority. Bevin’s office has said it will appeal the ruling.

In his June 17 press conference, Bevin justified his executive actions by saying the board had fallen into dysfunction. On Tuesday, he injected the board’s political makeup into the debate.

The former board was comprised of 13 Democrats, one Republican and an independent, which “doesn’t even pretend to meet the requirements” of state law, Bevin said in a news release. That board was seated by Beshear’s father and Bevin’s predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

“Kentucky law clearly states that the University of Louisville Board of Trustees must have proportional representation of the two leading political parties in the Commonwealth,” the first-year Republican governor said in a statement.

“The old board didn’t even come close to complying with the law. The public deserves to know: Does Attorney General Beshear agree that the old U of L Board was (and, if reconvened, would still be) illegally constituted? Does he believe this illegally constituted board has the authority to meet and conduct business on behalf of the university?”

Bevin’s board, by contrast, had four Democrats, four Republicans and two independents.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, in response, accused Bevin of lashing out against him and Shepherd. He did not address questions posed by Bevin.

“Kentuckians deserve better,” Beshear said in a statement. “Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees. It is to prevent the governor from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it.”

The new UofL board negotiated the resignation of beleaguered President Jim Ramsey on Wednesday, and Larry Benz, chairman of the former board, told reporters after Shepherd’s ruling that trustees would work this week to ratify actions taken by the new panel.

But Bevin cautioned that “a meeting of an illegally constituted board would only further tarnish the reputation of this outstanding university.”

“It would clearly show that those who insist upon this course of action are not truly interested in the best interests of the University of Louisville,” Bevin said in a statement. “It is time for the Attorney General to stop playing self-serving, political games with the future of Kentucky students and allow the university to move forward with new leadership and a fresh start.”

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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