LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Local officials inspected Gov. Matt Bevin’s home Tuesday as part of the Kentucky Republican’s appeal over the value of a property he purchased from a friend and campaign donor.
Bevin purchased the home for $1.6 million in March. The Jefferson County property valuation administrator says the home is worth $2.9 million. Bevin appealed, arguing he purchased 10 acres of a 19 acre tract and said the home required significant repairs.
Tuesday, a three-member board of assessment appeals inspected the home in person. Board chairman Clem Russell did not let reporters observe the inspection, ruling it was not a meeting as defined by the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Jeremy Rogers, an attorney representing The Courier-Journal, objected.
“This is a meeting of the board. They are all present, they are conducting public business, and that’s a meeting under the open meetings act and it should be open to the public,” he said.
Bevin and his wife purchased the home from Neil Ramsey. Bevin has since appointed him to the Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees. Ramsey is also part-owner of a company that has a contract with the state. That prompted two ethics complaints from a state watchdog group and a Democratic lawmaker. But an ethics commission unanimously dismissed them both, saying no law bans “public servants from engaging in a financial transaction or giving each other gifts.”
Bevin has dismissed criticism of the purchase as “political mumbo jumbo.” He tweeted Tuesday that a drone was “flying directly over and around my home filming my children.” At first he seemed to accuse The Courier-Journal and WAVE-TV of piloting the drone. He later tweeted it was piloted by WDRB-TV news director Barry Fulmer.
“At what point does your attempt to fabricate news cross the line? Would jury of peers think filming their children is appropriate?” Bevin tweeted .
Fulmer replied on Twitter that the TV station was flying a drone over Bevin’s home, but it was done in accordance with FAA rules and “there is NO video of children.”
An order denying reporters access to the inspection said the board would reconvene in a public meeting to discuss any issues from the inspection. Nore Ghibaudy, a spokesman Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, said the board decided no such meeting was necessary.
Ghibaudy said the board will reconvene Wednesday to deliberate. The deliberations are not open to the public. Ghibaudy said the board’s decision would become public only after Bevin or his attorney has been notified. Bevin or the property valuation administrator could appeal the ruling.