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Former Ky. Gov. Brereton Jones dies at age 84

Brereton Jones sits with blue blazer, red tie, white shirt, blue background.
Screenshot
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Kentucky Educational Television
Former Gov. Brereton Jones during an interview on KET with other former governors.

Former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones has died at age 84.

Jones was a Democrat who served as Kentucky’s top executive from 1991 until 1995. He also held the office of lieutenant governor from 1987 until 1991 as a part of Gov. Wallace Wilkinson’s administration.

Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Jones’ death in a statement on Monday, saying the family has asked for privacy.

“I was sad to learn that former Governor and Lt. Gov. Brereton Jones has passed away. Gov. Jones was a dedicated leader and a distinguished thoroughbred owner who worked to strengthen Kentucky for our families. Please join Britainy and me in praying for Libby and his family,” Beshear wrote online.

Born in Ohio and raised in West Virginia, Jones started his political career as a Republican in the Mountain State, becoming the youngest-ever member of its House of Delegates in 1964. He rose to be the chamber’s GOP floor leader before leaving the statehouse to focus on his real estate business.

Jones married Elizabeth “Libby” Lloyd and moved to central Kentucky in the 1970s. There he started the Airdrie Stud, a large thoroughbred farm in Woodford County where more than 200 stakes winners have since been bred and raised. He eventually switched his party affiliation to Democrat and was appointed to several boards and commissions throughout the 1980s before being tapped to serve as Wilkinson’s running mate.

Jones won the Democratic nomination in 1991 over Gov. Wilkinson’s wife, Martha, who withdrew from the race after polls showed her trailing in the five-way contest.

He ran a reformist campaign, calling for limits to campaign donations and universal health care for all Kentuckians. He achieved some of those policies, including the Kentucky Health Care Reform Act of 1994, and trimming maximum campaign donations from $4,000 per candidate to $500 at the time.

Jones was governor during the climax of the FBI’s BOPTROT bribery investigation, which led to the indictment of several sitting lawmakers. He oversaw the creation of Kentucky’s executive branch ethics code and called the inquiry a “cleansing process,” which infuriated some legislators.

Jones also advocated for a constitutional amendment that allowed Kentucky’s state officials to run for consecutive terms, though exempted sitting officials – including himself.

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