Ethics watchdog group calls Kentucky governor ‘a clown’

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From The State Journal

A recent report by a Washington watchdog group has listed Gov. Steve Beshear among the worst governors in the United States and categorized him as a clown.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., released the report earlier this week, assessing U.S. governors on corruption, transparency, partisan politics, pressuring public officials, cronyism, self-enrichment, scandal and mismanagement.

Beshear ranked seventh on the list for his involvement in the coal industry.

“Coal is a big business in Kentucky, but Gov. Beshear has taken his allegiance to the industry too far,” the report states.

Beshear fired Ron Mills, director of Kentucky’s division of mine permits, in 2009 after he refused to issue permits under a controversial policy that allowed companies to begin mining before obtaining the legal right to enter.

Mills sued under the Whistleblower Act, and the state settled for $270,000.

The report also accuses Beshear of “allowing representatives of the coal industry to exert improper influence over official appointments.”

Alliance Resource Partners requested many of the permits in question.

Alliance CEO Joseph W. Craft was appointed to the Kentucky Climate Action Plan Council. In March 2012, Jerry F. Lewis, a former safety director at ARP, was named executive director of the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.

The report categorizes 18 governors into three groups — ringmasters, clowns and sideshows.

Beshear topped the list of clowns, a group of six governors whose “conduct raises serious questions about their leadership.”

Spokeswoman Parry Barrows said the governor’s office is not providing comment on the report at this time.