Ky. state treasurer says Gov. Beshear misused taxpayer money during pandemic

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 12:03 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 3:52 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky’s state treasurer is claiming Governor Andy Beshear suppressed the First Amendment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic started last March, the governor asked people not to attend in-person church services to slow the spread of COVID-19, and even called on state police and health departments to assist in that enforcement.

“But understand this is the only way to ensure your decision doesn’t kill somebody else,” Beshear said in April.

On Good Friday the governor asked state police to issue notices to people attending church on Easter Sunday. He said it was needed to curb mass gatherings and the spread of COVID-19.

Treasurer Allison Ball says the target of mass gathering enforcement—and using police to monitor or shut down services—violated the First Amendment.

She says her office has been reviewing how tax dollars were spent to enforce the executive orders. Governor Beshear says the orders were based on 20 people who died at a western Kentucky revival—and put out orders closing any mass gathering.

“We did at that time what we thought it would take, what other states were doing, and while we had a federal court disagree with us, it was in a civil case, the U.S. Supreme Court came out with an opinion dealing with another state saying these restrictions were legal,” Gov. Beshear said.

The Kentucky Democratic Party says the treasurer is abusing her position to try to use religion to score political points.

Treasurer Ball says she received information from several health departments and from Kentucky State Police as part of the investigation.

We reached out to Treasurer Ball for an interview today but her staff said she wants to wait until after she presents findings to a legislative panel on Thursday.

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