The family paid $1.6 million for the home 45 miles away in Anchorage from a company owned by Neil Ramsey, a friend and Bevin campaign donor, the Courier-Journal reported. Last year, the governor appointed Ramsey to the board of Kentucky Retirement Systems.
A month after the sale, the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator valued the property and its 19 surrounding acres at $2.97 million, prompting some to wonder if the governor got a “sweetheart deal,” according to the Courier-Journal.
Bevin disagreed with that assessment on the grounds that he’d purchased only 10 of the 19 acres and the property was “grossly overvalued,” according to certified appraiser John May. So Bevin appealed the assessment.
To settle the appeal, the three-member Jefferson County Board of Assessment Appeals inspected the entire property on Tuesday to determine its value. Given that the mansion would serve as the de facto governor’s mansion, some argued that the assessment constituted an open meeting.
“Jeremy Rogers, attorney for the news organization, said the inspection by members of the Jefferson County Board of Assessment Adjustment should have been treated as an open, public meeting because all three board members were apparently present and conducting public business,” according to the Courier-Journal.
The governor, though, disagreed and barred all reporters from attending. State troopers were on hand to block the news media from attending, TV station WDRB reported.
So WDRB sent a drone to the property.
The Republican governor was not pleased. So displeased, in fact, he turned to Twitter to lash out at two other news organizations, one of which doesn’t even have drones.
“Drones again flying directly over and around my home filming my children…@wave3news @courierjournal #PeepingTom Loftus,” he tweeted just before noon CDT.
Two minutes later, he tweeted, “At what point does the perverse fascination by @wave3news, @courierjournal & #PeepingTom Loftus with my home & family border on stalking?”
Tom Loftus is a Kentucky state government reporter with the Courier-Journal who has doggedly covered the saga surrounding the new house. For example, he recently wrote an article questioning whether Bevin’s media ban of his home inspection broke the state’s open-meetings law.
That wasn’t the governor’s only complaint of the day. About two hours later, he tweeted that Loftus, whom he referred to as “#PeepingTom” in a Trump-like flourish, “just came to my home again with three attorneys demanding to be let in…”
Both news organizations quickly responded to the governor’s claims.
“The Courier-Journal does not own or operate drones,” said Courier-Journal Executive Editor Joel Christopher. “It is a false association to include the Courier-Journal in that tweet.”
Later in an editorial calling the tweets “laughably ridiculous” and referring to the governor as “positively Trumpian,” the Courier-Journal stated, “Only one attorney accompanied reporter Tom Loftus, there to point out that the inspection was a public meeting subject to the Kentucky Open Meetings Act.”
Bill Shory, news director for WAVE3, also rebutted the governor’s claims, tweeting, “For the record, Governor, WAVE 3 News has never flown our drone over your house. Today or at any time in the past.”
Bevin didn’t need to look far to find the culprit, however. WDRB news director Barry Fulmer quickly announced his station was responsible for the drone. At least some of the footage it captured aired on the station later that evening. No children can be seen.
To recap: The governor barred reporters from his home, became angry that a news station legally filmed his home from a drone, then blamed two news organizations that were not involved.
Upon getting his facts straight, Bevin tweeted yet again — this time posting a link to Fulmer’s contact information while continuing to claim the drone filmed his children.
When reached for comment by Ars Technica, Fulmer referred the media organization to his tweet.
Kentucky and drones have a bit of a contentious relationship.
In 2016, Kentucky resident William Merideth spotted a camera-equipped drone flying over his property. Displeased, he grabbed a Benelli M1 Super 90 shotgun and blasted it out of the sky. According to Merideth, no one seemed to mind.
“The only people I’ve heard anything negative from are liberals that don’t want us having guns and people who own drones,” the self-described “drone slayer” told The Washington Post.
He was wrong. John Boggs, the drone’s owner who claimed he was attempting to photograph the scenery, certainly minded. He filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Louisville claiming that Merideth didn’t have the right to shoot down his drone, because, as he argued, the airspace belongs to the government. That lawsuit, though, was eventually dismissed.