The FBI is looking into pardons issued by former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, including clemency given to a murderer and a child rapist, according to a report.
The Louisville Courier Journal, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported late Monday that an FBI agent had spoken with a Kentucky state representative, Rep. Chris Harris, about a criminal investigation into Bevin’s pardons.
Harris, who had called for an investigation into the ex-governor, told the Courier Journal that he’d been contacted last week by a criminal investigator about Bevin’s pardons. Harris refused to comment on which law enforcement agency the investigator was from.
The lawmaker did not respond to repeated questions from NBC News on Tuesday. The FBI isn’t commenting on the matter.
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Bevin, who lost his re-election bid last month, has come under fire in recent weeks for having issued more than 600 pardons and sentence reductions since the Nov. 5 election, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.
Among Bevin’s pardons were ones for a convicted child rapist and a man convicted of killing his parents.
Bevin pardoned Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide and other crimes in a fatal 2014 home break-in in Knox County. Prosecutors say Baker and another man posed as police officers to gain entry to Donald Mills’ home, and Mills was shot in front of his wife.
Baker’s family raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year for Bevin and Baker’s brother and sister-in-law also gave $4,000 to Bevin’s re-election campaign on the day of the fundraiser, the Courier Journal reported. Bevin wrote in the pardoning document that Baker’s “drug addictions” led him to fall in with the wrong people and the evidence against Baker was “sketchy at best.”
Bevin, who was defeated last month by Democrat Andrew Beshear, also came under fire for pardoning Micah Schoettle, who was sentenced last year to 23 years in prison for rape, sodomy and other sexual crimes, according to Courier-Journal. The victim told police the abuse started when she was nine and lasted until she was 12, the newspaper reported.
Those particular pardons have led several Kentucky lawmakers to ask the state’s incoming attorney general to investigate the orders.
Bevin did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment from NBC News.
But he had, earlier, this month defended his commutation of the sentence of the man convicted of raping a young girl, saying there “was zero evidence” of the assault because her hymen was “intact.” That claim is not backed by medical research.
The Courier-Journal has reported that Schoettle’s mother, Deborah Jo Durr, served two terms on the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission from 2009-2017, according to the Courier Journal. Schoettle’s stepfather, R.C. Durr, was a prominent businessman and philanthropist who co-founded the Bank of Kentucky and whose construction and contracting business built hundreds of miles of state highways.