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Bevin and Conway Debate Behind Closed Doors, Bevin Has Possible Ethics Violation

Kentucky’s coal industry still has political influence in the state, even as production declines. That’s illustrated by a closed-door debate hosted by the industry earlier this month. Both of Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidates were there.

The Coal & Investment Leadership Forum was part of a golf and fly fishing retreat attended by industry executives in Virginia. As first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin answered questions posed by Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett and rebutted one another.

Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy obtained a copy of an invitation to the retreat. He says the event boasted about time for one-on-one conversations between politicians, investors and coal executives. “So there’s a lot of social time, a lot of time for potential candidates and potential major funders of campaigns to be talking one on one and presumably to be making promises about what they would do to support the coal industry.” he said.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush also spoke at the retreat, which invitees paid $7,500 to attend.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reportingRepublican nominee for governor Matt Bevin did not disclose his positions with two companies on his financial disclosure statement, a possible violation of state ethics laws.

Bevin is the president of Bevin Bros. Manufacturing in Connecticut and has a position with Academic Merit in Maine, according to records filed with the Secretary of State's offices in those two states. He did not report either on his state disclosure.

Bevin did disclose his position as sole owner of Integrity Holdings, the company that owns Bevin Bros. and Academic Merit. Bevin's campaign manager, Ben Hartman, said that fulfilled his disclosure requirements.

Executive Branch Ethics Commission interim executive director Kathryn Gabhart said she believes the commission would find Bevin should disclose all of his positions with every business.

Bevin has often spoken publicly of his association with the companies.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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