As the sun begins to set on summer, we can be glad that the clouds surrounding Gov. Matt Bevin’s purchase of a family home in Louisville are moving off in the distance. Still, though, there are a few looming questions.
First, within a day or two of the Jefferson County PVA’s adjustment of the value of the Bevin home in early August, Attorney General Andy Beshear tried to smear the governor in the news media.
In the game of politics, there are lots of pieces that play out behind the scenes. Maybe Beshear knew something that was never reported. He didn’t give any details. The timing seems strange that he didn’t mention anything earlier since the story was in the news almost daily.
It also seems strange that the Friday night of the Fancy Farm weekend was the right time to mention the Bevin home to reporters. This year’s Fancy Farm event was dominated by Democrats looking to test the waters of the upcoming election cycles.
Speaking of reporting, the Courier-Journal led the way in making sure Kentuckians didn’t forget about the allegations and investigation. On one hand, we can be glad they’re working hard to keep us informed. On the other hand, you’d think they’d know about a process like this.
It turns out that in 2008, the Gannett Kentucky Limited Partnership, the company that owns the Courier-Journal, filed an appeal on the value of their property in downtown Louisville. The company bought the building in 2000 for more than $15 million. On Jan. 2, 2007, the proper was valued at &7.9 million. However, on Jan. 1, 2008, the property value jumped to $13.6 million.
Gannett Kentucky appealed the value and won the case. The property value was reduced to $8.2 million. Gannett Kentucky probably had good reason to file their appeal in 2008 and the Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals apparently thought so when they reduced the value of their property.
The appeals process for Gannett Kentucky took several months. It looks like their process lasted longer than Gov. Bevin’s. And don’t forget, in addition, he was investigated and exonerated by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission along the way.
If Gannett and its subsidiary Courier-Journal want to be known for treating the subjects of their stories fairly, they need to put principles of fairness into journalistic practices. Their own experience in a property value dispute gives them incredible insight as to the process and potential for property value disputes. Yet, they chose the path of speculation and conjuring images of impropriety and corruption. Hopefully, the sun is setting on the story, but they’ve lost a lot of credibility – the news media’s most important asset.
Brandon Porter is media director for Commonwealth Policy Center.