Vulnerable Dem governor skewered by challengers for rejecting records request on COVID closures

FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on Wednesday ripped Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear after the state’s attorney general determined that Beshear improperly rejected a request for records concerning school closures during the COVID pandemic, and said that decision shows why Beshear should be voted out of office this year.

On Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, found that Beshear had no reason not to comply with the records request from state Republicans, and several of Beshear’s possible opponents took notice.

“During COVID, Kentucky needed leadership, and instead we got lockdowns. We need a governor who has the courage to lead from the front and not follow the crowd,” former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft’s campaign said in a statement to Fox New Digital.

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From left: Republican Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft.
(Getty Images)

“Andy Beshear has proven time and again that he’s not up to the task of leading our commonwealth,” the statement said, echoing criticism Craft has dealt Beshear over his handling of the drug crisis plaguing Kentucky.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who holds a doctorate in higher education and is also running for governor, blamed Beshear’s school lockdowns across the state for the negative impacts he said had affected their learning.

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“As a former educator myself, I know that our children suffered due to excessive COVID lockdowns that we now know caused lower test scores around the Commonwealth. To be clear, the lockdowns have caused irreparable harm to students which will be felt for decades to come,” he told Fox.

“As governor, I’ll focus on keeping our schools open and correcting the generational loss because of Andy Beshear’s exaggerated lockdown,” he added.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 25, 2020.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Cameron, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, didn’t immediately respond to Fox’s request for comment.

The denied records request was made by Kentucky GOP spokesman Sean Southard on Dec. 2, 2022. The named officials in the request include Beshear, as well as current and former members of his administration, Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Director Sebastian Kitchen, state lawmakers and Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell.

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Beshear’s attorneys argued that complying with the records request “would require the retrieval and review of every other electronic or physical correspondence to or from the identified individuals over the span of more than three years to determine whether the correspondence contained one of the eight identified terms.”

Cameron’s finding, however, ruled that the Kentucky GOP’s request didn’t include “any and all records,” but rather correspondence with a particular subject matter in a particular time frame.

A child puts her mask back on after finishing lunch at a socially distanced table in the cafeteria of Medora Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 17, 2021.
(Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

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Southard told Fox that the next step for the GOP is to go back to the governor and see if he will respect the ruling and release the request records. Beshear could invite a lawsuit by failing to comply.

Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.