Kentucky Lawmaker Wants Constitutional Amendment to Reform Governor's Pardoning Power

Dec 13, 2019

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, plans to sponsor a constitutional amendment to reform the governor's pardoning powers.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

A Kentucky state senator says he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to reform the governor's pardoning power.  The move comes after former Governor Matt Bevin issued hundreds of pardons, many for people convicted of heinous crimes.

Governor Matt Bevin issued more than 400 pardons and commutations before leaving office on Monday.  Among the beneficiaries was a man convicted of beheading a woman and stuffing her body in a barrel and a man convicted of child rape.  In another case, Bevin pardoned a convicted murderer whose family held a fundraiser for him. 

"It is clear from the events at the end of the Bevin administration that reform is needed to the power of a governor to pardon and commute sentences," State Sen. Chris McDaniel said in a statement.

The Republican lawmaker plans to introduce the amendment in the 2020 legislative session.  He says it will eliminate pardoning powers for the month leading up to an election, and for the time between an election and the swearing-in of a new governor. 

McDaniels says if a governor wants to use the power to commute and pardon, he should be willing to stand in front of the voters and be held accountable for those actions.