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Bevin Transition Team: Tea Party Leaders, Fletcher Friends, Hal Heiner

Matt Bevin
Matt Bevin

Governor-elect Matt Bevin has named a transition team to help him assemble his administration and fill hundreds of executive branch jobs for the next four years.

Mac Brown, executive director of Louisville distilling giant Brown-Forman, will be leading the transition team.

The rest of the committee is made up of notable Republicans, including members of former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration, heads of local Tea Party groups, business leaders and state lawmakers.

The team also includes former gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner, who lost to Bevin in a nasty four-way primary election this spring. Heiner will serve as an adviser for transportation issues.

A statement from Bevin's office said: “No transition steering committee member is a candidate for any position associated with their committee.”

Here are the members:

Lt. Governor-elect Jenean Hampton. Hampton worked as an executive in the packaging industry.

Kristen Webb-Hill, transition director. Hill is the chair of Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a political action committee that supported Sen. Mitch McConnell during his primary race against Bevin in 2014.

Vivek Sarin, governor’s office. Sarin is a close friend of Bevin’s and the CEO of industrial equipment manufacturer Shelby Industries.

Rep. Jerry T. Miller, steering committee director. Miller is a state representative from Louisville and former Metro Council member for the city. He previously served as commissioner of the state parks system in former Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s administration.

John Hodgson, budget and operations director. Hodgson is the president of the Louisville Tea Party and also works for UPS in Louisville.

John Roach, general counsel. Roach was the general counsel to Fletcher until he was appointed to be a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice when Justice James Keller retired. He is a current partner at Lexington law firm Ransdell and Roach.

Rep. Tom Kerr, economic development. Kerr is a Republican from Taylor Mill in Northern Kentucky who’s been vocal about repealing Kentucky's Common Core standards.

Billy Harper, education and workforce development. Harper was a gubernatorial candidate in 2007, losing to Fletcher in the primary. In 2014 Harper became an advocate for expanded gaming in the state and is an executive board member of Kentucky Wins!, which supports the gaming cause. He’s also the CEO and president of Harper Industries, a Paducah construction company.

Kathy Walker, energy and environment. Walker is the CEO of Paintsville energy marketing company Elm Street Resources.

Bonita Black, health and family services. Black is a managing member of Louisville corporate law firm Steptoe & Johnson.

Mark Sommer, justice and public safety. Sommer is an attorney with Louisville law firm Frost Brown Todd.

Garth Kuhnhein, personnel. Kuhnheim is the former president of the Northern Kentucky Tea Party. In 2013, he sued the Northern Kentucky library district for raising tax rates to pay for library operations.

Julie Denton, public protection and labor. Denton is a former Republican state senator and current Louisville Metro Council member. In the legislature, she was chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and a vocal opponent of Beshear’s executive order to expand Medicaid.

Brett Gaspard, tourism, arts and heritage. Gaspard is the public sector manager of Rumpke, Covington’s private trash collection provider. He is also the President of the Boone County Republican Party chapter.

Hal Heiner, transportation. Heiner is an engineer and former Louisville Metro Council member. Heiner lost to Bevin in a four-way Republican primary race earlier this year after spending $4.4 million of his own money on the bid.

Maj. General Donald Storm, Department of Military Affairs. Storm was the adjutant general under former Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

John Farris, Kentucky Retirement System. Farris is the founder and president of real estate firm LandFund Partners. He was also the finance administration cabinet secretary in the Fletcher administration.

Frank Farris, finance and administration. Farris is a partner at Mountjoy Chilton Medley, an accounting firm.

Tom Stephens, transition personnel director. Stephens was the general counsel in the Personnel Cabinet during the Fletcher administration.

Jessica Ditto, communications director. Ditto has worked as communications director for Bevin’s campaign since September. She previously worked as a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party and also worked on Fletcher’s re-election campaign.

This story has been corrected. The previous version misidentified Tom Stephens.

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