Kentucky’s attorney general has asked the FBI to formally investigate former Governor Matt Bevin’s controversial pardons, two state legislators said Thursday. Bevin issued hundreds of pardons between losing his re-election bid and leaving office. Lawmakers are concerned that some of the pardons were favors to supporters.
Last month, federal law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News that the FBI is looking into the pardons.
Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey and Representative Chris Harris released a joint statement Thursday thanking Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican who was sworn in on January 1, for making the request, CBS Louisville affiliate WKYT reported.
“While Kentucky’s constitution gives the governor the power to pardon a person convicted of crimes, I believe the pardon power should be used sparingly and only after a great deliberation with due concern for public safety,” Cameron said in response to the lawmakers.
The investigation will focus on the pardon of Patrick Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide. Baker’s family raised more than $20,000 for the Bevin campaign.
“Kentuckians deserve to know if the pardon of Patrick Baker, whose family raised tens of thousands of dollars for Governor Bevin in 2018, was granted improperly,” said the letter from McGarvey and Harris.
Melinda Mills, the sister of Baker’s victim Donald Mills, told CBS Eastern Kentucky affiliate WMYT, that the family is hoping for some closure. “We thought we had everything behind us until it came up for parole hearings and unfortunately it comes up before that,” Mills said.
Mills said she hopes Baker will end up in jail after the investigation. “We hope and pray that you know he gets more time that he got during the actual trial and in the state case and now that it’s federal that there could be a lot more changes,” she said.
Bevin issued more than 400 pardons after November 5 election, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
One was Micah Schoettle, a man who served less than two years for raping a 9-year-old girl who was a close relative. The mother of that child, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her family, told CBS News that she wishes she’d been warned that her daughter’s rapist was going free.
“It just felt like a slap in the face. It felt like a ton of bricks hit me. I just kind of collapsed to the floor sobbing and crying,” she said. “I wish Bevin would have come talk to me first before he gave Micah a pardon, and that was never done.”
Schoettle served just 19 months of a 23-year sentence. In a radio interview in December, Bevin defended his pardon of Schoettle by claiming there was no physical evidence. “If you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically,” Bevin said.
Don Dahler contributed to this report.