Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 11, 2014

Bevin having to answer some tough questions

By RONNIE ELLIS
CNHI News Service

FRANKFORT — Matt Bevin, the Louisville investment manager challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary, scrambled Tuesday to explain a 2008 investment report over his signature which appears to endorse the federal “bailout” of Wall Street, an issue on which he has relentlessly criticized McConnell.

In an article for POLITICO, John Bresnahan quotes an Oct. 28, 2009 report to investors of Veracity Fund, of which Bevin was president and chairman of the board, praising governmental intervention in the financial markets. It said:

“Most of the positive developments have been government led, such as the effective nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the passage of the $700 billion TARP (don’t call it a bailout) and the Federal Reserve’s intention to invest in commercial paper.” The report is signed by Bevin and Daniel Bandi, chief investment officer and vice president for Veracity.

TARP is the acronym for Troubled Asset Relief Program, the so-called “Wall Street bailout,” which many believe saved the international credit markets and prevented a major financial meltdown but that has become a key example of government over reach for tea party and conservative groups. McConnell supported the measure — as did then presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

Bevin has relentlessly criticized McConnell’s support for the TARP and also accused him of not doing enough to prevent implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

CNHI News requested to speak with Bevin or for the campaign to provide an explanation, to which campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel supplied a link to a recording of The Glen Beck Radio Show where Bevin defended the report.

In that interview, Bevin told Beck he had undergone “no change of heart because I didn’t actually sign that thing — or, I’m sorry — I didn’t actually write that letter.” He went on to say he was required by law and the Securities and Exchange Commission to sign such reports because he was President and Chairman of the Board.

“I was not approving of anyone else’s opinion,” Bevin told Beck. “I was, as president and chairman of the board, required by law to verify the veracity of financial figures.”

Semmel said the interview with Beck “debunks everything in the political piece” by Bresnahan. She is quoted by Bresnahan in the article as saying Bevin’s signature on the report “is a formality.”

CNHI News subsequently requested a copy of the letter from the Bevin campaign but as of press time had received no response.

The article goes on to say Bandi also wrote a letter praising the $787 billion stimulus plan and to say Bevin subsequently signed SEC forms indicating he reviewed the reports and found them accurate.

Media reaction was swift and harsh, with some national commentators suggesting it might be a fatal blow to Bevin’s candidacy against McConnell. (Bevin trailed McConnell by as many as 26 points in publicly released polls even before Bresnahan’s POLITICO piece.)

The McConnell campaign was just as fast, sending out press releases including comments from several national and state media outlets.

 “Matt Bevin’s entire campaign is based on a lie, as he has been untruthful on everything from where he went to school, to his business background, to where he stands on the issues and he has been exposed,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. Barren County Republican David Dickerson has been an outspoken supporter of Bevin and he said Tuesday the POLTICO article doesn’t change that.

“My opinions on this race remain unchanged,” Dickerson said. “Matt Bevin the Senate candidate says he would have voted against TARP, and he is truthful about it. Using TARP once it becomes law is not hypocrisy. It is abiding by the law as it passed. You might disagree with it, but it is the law. Changing the law is the job of Matt Bevin once he is nominated and elected.”

Dickerson went on to say it was McConnell who was guilty of hypocrisy because he “reversed his position on TARP only after it was larded up with pork to the tune of $150 billion above the amount originally requested by the Bush administration.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.