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Kentucky Lawmaker Wants To Limit Governor's Pardoning Power

Josh James

A Kentucky Republican lawmaker is seeking to limit the pardon powers of the governor, following a series of controversial pardons and commutations issued by former Gov. Matt Bevin during his final days in office.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, would eliminate the governor's power to pardon 30 days before an election and after the election until the swearing in of a new governor. The idea is to force governors to be accountable to voters for the pardons they issue.

While McDaniel says Bevin's actions, which led to questions about improper influence over the pardons, aren't the sole impetus behind the bill, "what that really made us realize is the potential for how badly this power could be abused."

"As much as a lot of us feel like it was abused a little bit in this, it could have been much worse," the Taylor Mill Republican said. "And so we're trying to limit what could happen, which is a lot worse than what did happen."

Bevin's pardons, which included one granted to a man whose family raised tens of thousands of dollars for the governor's campaign, have prompted bipartisan outcry ⁠— and a request by Attorney General Daniel Cameron for an FBI investigation.

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