Gov. Bevin's office and KY House Speaker react to allegation of 'threatening' voicemail
Democratic Kentucky state Rep. Russ Meyer says Republican Gov. Matt Bevin left him a threatening voicemail after Meyer declined to switch political parties ahead of the legislative session.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky lawmaker says he was threatened by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Rep. Russ Meyer of Nicholasville has released a voicemail that appears to show he was pressured by the governor to switch parties.
Meyer released the audio of a phone call from Bevin he says came after he declined to switch and decided to remain a Democrat.
"I want you to be very aware of what the impact of those decisions will be as it relates to you, your seat, your district, etc. just so that we have all the cards on the table," Bevin is heard saying in the recording.
Later, a road project in Meyer's district was canceled.
Meyer did not respond to WDRB's request for comment, but House Speaker Greg Stumbo is calling for a criminal investigation.
"I would think that either state or federal authorities would look at this. At least give it a look, and see. These are certainly very serious allegations," Stumbo told reporters.
But the governor is denying any link to the phone call and the road project.
His office claims the project was canceled because former Governor Steve Beshear had approved the contract before all the property had been acquired.
Republican Senator Tom Buford of Nicholasville says it was all about bad timing and scarce road funds, not politics.
"There was a family out there that was not prepared to sell their land, and I think that was cleared up. But also, the utilities had not been moved. The project was not ready to start," Buford told WDRB News.
In a statement, the governor's Communications Director, Jessica Ditto, called the phone conversation with Meyer, "polite and personal."
Here is the full statement:
The Governor believes a Republican majority in the State House will lead to more jobs and opportunities for Kentucky families in Rep. Meyer's district and across Kentucky.
Rep. Meyer was worried about the Governor supporting a Republican opponent against him this year and expressed an interest in changing parties because Jessamine County is now a Republican county and trending more so.
The fact that Rep. Meyer would release a nine-month-old polite and personal voicemail two months before an election is proof of his continued insecurity about keeping his seat.
His desperate and partisan effort to misconstrue the conversations that he initiated is a discredit to the office he holds. He is obviously anxious about being stuck in Speaker Stumbo's sinking ship that has failed Kentucky families taxpayers, and retirees year after year.
But a second lawmaker, Democrat Kevin Sinette of Ashland, says something similar happened to him during a meeting in the Governor's Mansion last December.
"And he pretty much told me that if I didn't switch parties there would be repercussions," said Sinette.
Sinette also believes he lost road projects because of his refusal to switch, though he admits he can't prove it.
"Given light of what's come out in the road project in Jessamine County, it makes you raise your eyebrows," he said.
Sinette originally made his claim that Bevin bullied him back in July, before Meyer released the voicemail.
The governor also denies any threat to Sinette.
Stumbo calls the allegations, if true, deplorable.
"And rises to the level, in my opinion, not only to the level of criminal activity, but is an impeachable offense," said Stumbo.
All this comes against the backdrop of the battle between Democrats and Republicans over control of the House.
Right now, the margin is 53-47.
The Kentucky House is the last chamber in the South that Democrats still control.
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