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Kentucky Treasurer Alleges 'Widespread' Misuse Of Tax Dollars To Enforce Virus Restrictions

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball is questioning the state's use of taxpayer funds to monitor church services for violations of the temporary mass gathering restrictions early in the pandemic.

Without offering specific figures on how much was spent, Ball told lawmakers Thursday that the Beshear administration violated the Constitution by having state police and health departments observe churches for violations of coronavirus orders.

"I don't intend to go into further investigation at this time because I just wanted to find out was this widespread, and it appears to be widespread," Ball testified. "There is no question that it's unconstitutional. Federal courts have been clear in their holdings that this is unconstitutional."

Ball also questioned whether the governor was selectively applying the rules by not calling for the same level of enforcement at protests.

Beshear, who often discusses his Christian faith in coronavirus press briefings, dismissed the comments by the treasurer as political posturing in an election year.

"What we see before every election is political parties trying to convince you that other political parties don't believe in God or are persecuting members of any specific religion, and it looks like that's what this is going to be," the Democrat responded.

The governor said the decision came at a time when the state was seeing the virus spread through church services and other mass gatherings, and felt the need to act.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.