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Democrats File Complaint After Bevin Promotes Barr With Official Twitter Account

Gov. Matt Bevin
J. Tyler Franklin
Gov. Matt Bevin

The Kentucky Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Matt Bevin for tweeting out his support for embattled Congressman Andy Barr’s reelection campaign from his official Twitter account.

On Saturday night, Bevin attended a rally in Richmond in which President Donald Trump stumped for Barr, who is running a tight race against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath.

From his official Twitter account, Bevin posted a picture of the rally at Eastern Kentucky University’s Alumni Coliseum.

“Here at @eku with a packed house of men, women and children who love our @POTUS, @realDonaldTrump and are supporting @RepAndyBarr on November 6….#WeAreKY”

The Kentucky Democratic Party said that Bevin’s tweet is an inappropriate use of taxpayer resources, citing a law that prohibits officials from using “state time, equipment, personnel, facilities, or other state resources for political campaign purposes.”

Ben Self, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said in a statement that Bevin “crossed the line," misusing taxpayer resources.

“This is an improper use of government resources and a violation of the public trust. For the Governor to break such a common sense rule and in such a flagrant manner is appalling. The Ethics Commission should hold Governor Bevin accountable,” Self wrote.

Democrats filed the complaint with the Kentucky Executive Branch Ethics Commission, which reviews complaints dealing with ethical conduct of executive branch employees and officials.

Bevin recently deleted the post. In an emailed statement, he said the complaint was "foolishness."

"The Pavlovian response by the lap dogs of the left to a photograph of a rally attended by many supporters of Congressman Andy Barr is an example of everything wrong with the modern world of politics," Bevin wrote.

"I put the picture up on Twitter because it actually happened here in Kentucky, and I assumed some people who were not there might want to see it. Apparently, however, the fact that people support and appreciate President Trump and Congressman Barr is too much for hyper-sensitive, liberal minds to handle."

Bevin said he took down the post "out of respect for the Executive Branch Ethics Commission staff, who have better things to do that to field mindless calls about issues like this."

The complaint comes as Bevin has been on a campaign to try and boost his image and tout his record at a series of town hall meetings across the state. His approval rating sits at about 30 percent, according to a recent poll from Morning Consult.

On Sunday, Bevin unveiled a video where he throws smoke bombs and shoots grenade launchers, saying that doing so represented his desire for “blowing things up like red tape, blowing up things like corruption, blowing up things like pay-to-play and inside deals.”

The video ends with Bevin walking through clouds of smoke with his cabinet members.

Democratic candidate Amy McGrath responded to Bevin’s Tweeted support for Barr and the grenade video on Twitter.

“I don't mean to interrupt while you act so tough by throwing live grenades in the air (https://bit.ly/2A9IZwx ) but KY ethics laws don't allow using your official Twitter account to promote the re-election of @barrforcongress, if you care about the law these days”

McGrath and Barr have been locked in a closely-watched race for the 6th Congressional district, which includes Lexington and stretches into the foothills of Appalachia. The contest could help determine whether Republicans hold onto control of the House of Representatives after the November 6 elections.

Tres Watson, communications director for the Republican Party of Kentucky, called the complaint “a desperate attempt by the Democrats to distract the public from the economic growth Kentucky is experiencing thanks to President Trump, Governor Bevin and the Republican majorities in Washington and Frankfort.”

The five-person Executive Branch Ethics Commission is made up entirely of members appointed by Bevin.

This story has been updated to include a response from Gov. Bevin.