FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is asking a judge to declare that Gov. Matt Bevin did not have the power to dismantle the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages $16 billion in state pension assets.

Beshear said Bevin’s assertion that he has the legal authority to abolish and remake any board in the state presents a “scary” opportunity for “abuse of power.”

He told reporters in a news conference that the Attorney General’s office will join a lawsuit already filed by the Kentucky Retirement Systems and that his intervening complaint will add the U of L board to the dispute.

If left unchallenged, Bevin could simply abolish any board – including the 16 state university boards – and replace its members every year, effectively giving the governor total control over boards that are supposed to be independent, Beshear said.

“These reorganizations are not about efficiency. They are about power. They are about control,” Beshear said. “…It makes him (Bevin) the de-facto president and chairman of every board and public university.”

Beshear said Bevin’s executive orders “simply rewrite” laws passed by the legislature, such as one saying that U of L board members can only be removed for cause with a hearing and that the U of L board has 17 appointees, which Bevin has changed to 10 with his executive order.

Beshear said the current interim U of L board of three people is also illegal and problematic.

“The decisions that up before the University of Louisville board are too important to be left to an illegally constituted board,” he said.

In a statement, Bevin called Beshear’s moves “purely political” and said that Beshear’s father, Steve, used the reorganization power more than 100 times during his eight years as governor.

Beshear declined to defend his father’s use of the reorganization powers.

“I wasn’t Attorney General under any past governor, and just because someone does something doesn’t mean it’s legal,” Beshear said. “What’s unprecedented here is a governor, first, abolishing two incredibly important governing boards on the same day – not to increase efficiency but to assert control.”

Beshear said the Kentucky Supreme Court will ultimately decide how much power the governor has with respect the boards.

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