FRANKFORT, Ky. — A letter dated Dec. 30, 2019 from Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office confirms that he asked the FBI to investigate some of the pardons issued by former Gov. Matt Bevin.
The letter was sent to state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and state Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, in response to their request for the appointment of a special prosecutor or bipartisan special prosecuting team to investigate the pardons.
Cameron’s letter said this:
Dear Representative Harris and Senator McGarvey:
This office received your letter requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor or bipartisan special prosecuting team to investigate some of the pardons issued by former Governor Matt Bevin.
I stand by the outstanding work of Kentucky’s prosecutors and respect the decisions of juries who convict wrongdoers. While Kentucky’s Constitution gives the Governor the power to pardon a person convicted of a crime, I believe the pardon power should be used sparingly and only after great deliberation with due concern for public safety.
As the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth, I am committed to providing a voice for the voiceless, to fighting on behalf of our law enforcement community, and to serving Kentuckians. I am also committed to working with federal, state, and local partners.
After taking office, I discussed this matter with some of our law enforcement partners. After this discussion, I decided to send a formal request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate this matter. As you may know, the Office of the Attorney General has a successful partnership with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies through a public corruption task force, and I have told the FBI that my office is willing to assist in any way that it needs.
Thank you for your dedicated service and representation of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Here is McGarvey and Harris’s letter to Cameron dated Dec. 13, 2019:
Dear Attorney General-elect Cameron:
As public servants, members of the Kentucky General Assembly and as a former assistant attorney general and former prosecutor concerned about the corrupting of our justice system, we ask you to appoint a special prosecutor, or a bipartisan special prosecuting team, to fully investigate some of the pardons issued by Governor Matt Bevin during his final days in office. We believe special attention should be given to probing the origins of a pardon granted to Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace office and tampering with evidence. At the time the pardon was issued, Patrick Baker was incarcerated and had served only two years of a 19-year sentence.
The prosecutor in that case has expressed concern that Mr. Bevin’s action was taken because the Baker family generously gave political funds to Governor Bevin and hosted a fund-raiser in which the former Governor himself attended. At least one Bevin pardon was granted contingent on 20 years of specific restorative justice conduct from the individual being pardoned, however, the Baker pardon contained no conditions and commuted the sentence to “time served.”
While the Governor’s constitutional power to pardon is broad and virtually unfettered, the power was granted to serve justice and hold public officeholders accountable, not to grant political favors to powerful friends and campaign donors. The appearance of corruption in this instance is overwhelming and cannot be overlooked or brushed aside. Establishing what reality lies behind that appearance is important to maintaining the public’s trust in the system of checks and balances for our government.
Investigation by a special prosecutor can help the public reconcile a clear contradiction between (1) the Bevin claim that evidence against Mr. Baker was “sketchy at best” and (2) the assessment by sentencing Circuit Judge David Williams, former Republican President of the State Senate, who declared, in 30 years of practice, “I’ve never seen a more compelling or complete case … the evidence was just overwhelming.”
Others with an interest in the origin of Mr. Baker’s pardon include the two individuals who were convicted with him in the 2014 Knox County home invasion that resulted in the fatal shooting of Donald Mills. The prosecuting attorney in the case explained that Mr. Baker was the most culpable in the incident because “he was the one who shot Mr. Mills.” We believe it is appropriate to establish why Mr. Baker has been freed while his two accomplices remain imprisoned.
An impartial investigation by a special prosecutor will help answer these questions in the most non-political way possible.