What’s a political party to do when the opposing party’s governor is judged by the national press to be the most popular governor in the nation?
If the attorney general happens to be a member of your party, you hatch a plan to file lawsuits against the governor in courts that friendly to your party.
As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has increased, Republican leaders in Washington and state capitals have turned a deadly pandemic into political theatre. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has now made it clear that he intends to play the villain, tying the people of Kentucky to a ticking time bomb by attacking Gov. Andy Beshear’s management of the emergency.
First, he intervened in a case filed by Republican Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evans Orchard and got Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett to block Beshear’s executive orders affecting agritourism businesses. State Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Acree, a registered Democrat who was first appointed by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, refused to overturn the Scott County judge’s order.
Then on Wednesday, one day after the state posted the second highest number of coronavirus cases since the first case was discovered in January, Cameron asked Boone Circuit Judge Rick Brueggemann to void every single executive order that Beshear has issued in response to the virus. Not only did Cameron ask Brueggemann to void all of Beshear’s past orders, he also asked that all future orders related to the virus be blocked. By Thursday Brueggemann had agreed.
But before he could get the order typed up and signed on Friday, Beshear sued in the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court promptly hit the brakes.
It issued a stay, telling Cameron he’ll actually have to present evidence and witnesses if he wants an injunction, and then the high court will decide if it’s warranted.
Cases against the Commonwealth are normally filed in Franklin Circuit Court, so filing these actions in Boone Circuit Court and Scott Circuit Court smacks of judge shopping, especially when you consider whom Cameron and Quarles have in their cart.
Privett has been pictured on social media with Quarles at a party and at other political events. He refers to Quarles as “my friend,” and Quarles is seen wearing one of Privett’s campaign buttons. Privett was appointed to the bench by Beshear’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Brueggemann, while now holding a nonpartisan office, was chairman of the Boone County Republican Party before being elected judge.
Some will say that’s okay because Beshear, when he was attorney general, sued Republican Gov. Matt Bevin repeatedly. That’s just politics.
But the lawsuits filed by then-Attorney General Beshear dealt with appointments to boards and commissions, teacher pensions, and other administrative matters.
Lest we forget, the morning that Cameron filed his motion, 20,677 Kentuckians had tested positive for the coronavirus. Of those, 645 had died. Many others are expected to have permanent debilitating health effects.
Should we be okay with “just politics” when the lives of our fellow Kentuckians are at stake?
On a day when Cameron, the first African-American to hold the office of Attorney General in Kentucky, had 87 Black Lives Matter protestors arrested for sitting on his lawn, he chose to take a stand against stopping a disease that disproportionately affects Blacks. African-Americans make up 14.99 percent of COVID-related deaths in Kentucky, but only 8.3 percent of the population.
Should we be okay with sacrificing the lives of those already marginalized just because the attorney general has the same skin color?
Gov. Beshear acted early and acted decisively to curb the number of cases here, shutting down many businesses and putting strict regulations on the number of people allowed in the businesses that remained open. Now he has required masks in public places to further arrest the spread of the virus, issued a travel advisory for nine states, and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. On last Tuesday, the day before Cameron filed his motion, the state recorded 576 new cases of COVID-19, the second highest number ever.
On the same day, Alabama, which has a similar population but failed to take action early to stop the virus, recorded 903 new cases, an abnormally low number since sandwiched between 1,921 the day before and 1,784 the day after. Kentucky’s cases passed 20,000 for the first time last week. Alabama passed 59,000.
National and international experts agree that wearing a mask is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That along with social distancing, and proper hand washing can go a long way toward slowing the disease until a vaccine can be developed.
But, instead of enforcing commonsense health rules, our attorney general has chosen to join the chorus of Know Nothings who stubbornly refuse to help their fellow man by the simple, non-invasive gesture of wearing a mask.
When did we Kentuckians stop caring about our neighbors?
When did we decide that “it’s just politics” is a valid excuse to allow others to die?
When did we decide we will tolerate this kind of raw politics in our top law enforcement officer?