Organizers readying for Gov.-elect Bevin's inauguration next week

12/03/2015 11:36 PM

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s military veterans will have a moment in the limelight during Gov.-elect Matt Bevin’s inauguration, with about 300 expected to march in the inaugural parade on Tuesday.

That’s part of the overall theme of inclusivity in Bevin’s celebratory day, Kelly Knight, co-chair of Bevin’s inaugural committee, told reporters Thursday at the Capitol.

“It’s very important to him to honor the veterans and also to make certain that the commonwealth knows that everyone is invited to participate,” she said.

Inaugural organizers detailed a day that will include a parade, music and an invite-only concert for supporters and donors of Bevin, who will become just the second Republican sworn in as governor since Gov. Louie Nunn took the oath in 1967.

Bevin’s inauguration will technically begin at midnight Tuesday, when he is sworn in at a private ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. He’s scheduled to attend a public worship service at the Frankfort Convention Center at 8 a.m. that morning, an event that will feature ministers of multiple faith traditions and Grammy Award-winning Gospel singer Larnelle Harris.

The inaugural parade will move toward the Capitol at 10 a.m., with Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer serving as grand marshal.

About 300 military veterans are expected to march in the parade, and Donnie Jenkins, a Medal of Honor recipient who served in the Vietnam War, will lead that unit along Capital Avenue. Another unit will honor fallen police officers, and a Jessamine County ambulance will be included in the event in memory of paramedic John Mackey, who died last month after he was struck by a car.

After Bevin is sworn in by Chief Justice John Minton outside the Capitol at 2 p.m., Bevin will head to the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, where Frankfort officials will formally welcome him to the capital city at 4 p.m. Country musician Ricky Skaggs will headline a bluegrass celebration in the history center’s garden.

Bevin will then be part of the inaugural grand march inside the Capitol Rotunda, joined by former governors and constitutional officers-elect.

Rather than a traditional inaugural ball, Bevin will host an invitation-only concert for about 2,000 supporters and inaugural donors.

Organizers declined to identify the headlining act, citing contractual limitations, but said the person or group did not have ties to Kentucky. Three members of the group Exile – J.P. Pennington, Sonny LeMaire and Les Taylor – will perform as the opener.

Knight said the low-key event suits Bevin more than a formal ball.

“Matt’s not a black-tie type of guy, so we felt like this would be a great reflection on Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton,” she said.

Another thing that will be kept under wraps, at least initially, is how much the inaugural committee will spend on the event. Knight said to check back for the group’s filing with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, which is due Jan. 5.

“On January the 6th you will see our donor list and therefore you can see the budget,” she said.

Inaugural committees aren’t limited in the amounts they can raise from individual donors, and unexpended money could benefit a number of sources.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s 2011 inaugural committee, for instance, raised $634,970, spending more than half of that — $355,298 – by June 30, 2012, with the committee’s balance currently at $279,820, according to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

According to KREF Executive Director John Steffen, unexpended funds from Bevin’s inauguration committee account can be carried forward or donated to charity.

Correction: A previous version of this report indicated that unexpended inauguration committee could transfer funds to party committees, remitted to the state treasury or refunded pro rata to contributors.

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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