Political war of words heats up over coronavirus orders

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)Thursday, the political war of words over Gov. Andy Beshear’s coronavirus orders and the legal battles that have accompanied them in recent weeks began to head up.

The flames were fanned even more Friday.

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Thursday evening, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles took the governor to task for Beshear’s comments during his press briefing Thursday evening. Later Thursday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is the only AG in the country to challenge his state’s coronavirus mandates, and Republican legislative leaders chastised the governor for his mask mandate.

Friday, Kentucky Democrats responded.

“After Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined two lawsuits in the last few weeks that sought to put Kentuckians at risk during a worldwide pandemic, it has become clear that Kentucky Republicans are coordinating with partisan judges to put politics above public safety,” the Democratic Party said in a press release.

The group noted the judges in question, Brian Privett and Rick Brueggemann, have a history of being partisan, according to campaign finance and other records.

Several social media posts show Privett with GOP elected officials, including Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who brought a lawsuit against Gov. Andy Beshear in Scott County, the Democrats said. Privett also attended a partisan event for the Scott County GOP and received donations from Thayer and State Rep. Phillip Pratt.

Rick Brueggeman was head of the Boone County GOP for two years and his family has a long history of supporting the Republican Party.

“Cameron has been the most politically aggressive Attorney General in the nation when it comes to filing lawsuits against COVID-19 protections. In other states where the attorney general and governor are of different political parties, like Kansas, there have not been any lawsuits challenging these public safety protections. Cameron appears to be focused on his political ambitions and is putting Kentuckians at risk,” the Democratic Party stated.

In a formal statement, Kentucky Democratic Party chair Ben Self called for the Republican Party of Kentucky, especially Daniel Cameron and Ryan Quarles, to stop judge shopping for partisan judges.

“The fact that Daniel Cameron and Ryan Quarles went to two of the most partisan judges they could find is sad and it calls into question their ethics and the ethics of the judges involved — who should have recused themselves. The Republican Party of Kentucky should have put the health and safety of Kentuckians during a pandemic first months ago rather than advance their political ambitions. If they can’t do so, voters should kick them out in November,” Self said.

Republicans didn’t miss a chance to keep the exchange going.

“This is nothing but purely political sour grapes from dejected Democrats who are bitter and disappointed that the Governor’s executive overreach keeps getting struck down in court,” said Mike Lonergan, communications director for the Republican Party of Kentucky.