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Bevin Appoints Democratic State Rep As Justice Secretary

KY_Governors_Mansion

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced Thursday morning he has appointed state Rep. John Tilley secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Tilley, a Democrat who represents Hopkinsville, has been the chair of the state House Judiciary Committee since 2009. He is serving his fifth term in the House.

His appointment further diminishes Democrats' majority in the state House, where the party now holds only a five-seat edge. Republicans control the Senate.

“He is well-qualified to lead the effort to keep our citizens safe and improve our criminal justice system," Bevin said in a statement. "He will bring a high level of passion and innovation to this role. John will be a strong advocate for our state police, prosecutors, public defenders, corrections officers and all other Justice Cabinet employees.”

The Courier-Journal first reported that Tilley would be tapped for the post, citing unnamed Democratic sources.

Tilley is the second House Democrat to defect in the wake of Kentucky Republicans' electoral victories in November, when they took the governor's mansion for only the second time in more than four decades. Republicans also captured the state auditor's and treasurer's posts from Democrats.

Last month, Louisville Rep. Denny Butler announced he was switching parties, dropping Democrats' majority to 53-47.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he was disappointed in John Tilley."

"I thought John Tilley had more character than that. We gave a lot of responsibility to both those individuals," he said of Tilley and Butler. "We moved them up thinking they had the ability to perform the duties that they had. We obviously believed they were men of character."

This story has been updated.