Courier-Journal Timeline: Bevin’s push to turn Democrats by threats, any means

The following post was written by Tom Loftus and appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal: 

Chronology of important dates related to Gov. Matt Bevin’s efforts to get House Democrats to change parties and the controversial Jessamine County road project:

Nov. 3, 2015: Republican Matt Bevin elected governor.

Nov. 19, 2015: Rep. Denny Butler switches registration from Democratic to Republican Party.

Nov. 20, 2015: Date the Steve Beshear administration takes bids on scores of projects including the East Brannon Road extension in Jessamine County. The Allen Company, of Lexington, submits lower of two bids ($11,185,538.05) for this project.

Nov. 25, 2015: Emails among Transportation Cabinet officials refer to problems in obtaining land for the Jessamine County project. they refer to this contract as an “early award” and that intention to award the contract before Dec. 8. But they estimate the land issue will be clear by March 15, 2016.

Nov. 30, 2015: East Brannon Road extension project awarded to The Allen Company for its bid price.

Dec. 7, 2015: Gov. Steve Beshear’s last day in office. Current Transportation officials say Allen Company officials visit cabinet to get needed signatures on contract for Jessamine County project before the day is over.

Dec. 8, 2015: Bevin takes office as governor.

Dec. 10, 2015:  State contract with Allen Company is signed.

Dec. 15, 2015: Bevin appoints Democratic Rep. Tanya Pullin as a workers’ compensation judge creating a Democratic vacancy in House.

Dec. 15, 2015: Date Rep. Russ Meyer, a Nicholasville Democrat, says he met with Bevin at Governor’s Mansion.

Dec 16, 2015: Date Meyer said he received a call from Bevin Chief of Staff Blake Brickman threatening to “punish” Meyer politically for rebuffing Bevin’s request to switch to Republican Party. (Brickman denies threatening Meyer.)

Dec. 17, 2015: Meyer says Bevin left voicemail message telling Meyer he disagreed with Meyer’s “decisions” and said he needed to understand how they will impact “you, your seat, your district.”

Dec. 23, 2015: Bevin appoints Democratic Rep. John Tilley as Justice Cabinet secretary, creating another Democratic vacancy in House.

Dec. 28, 2015: Democratic Rep. Jim Gooch announces he’s switched registration to the Republican Party.

Dec. 28, 2015: Democratic Rep. Kevin Sinnette, Matt Bevin, Blake Brickman, others meet in Governor’s Mansion where Sinnette said Bevin said, “If you don’t (switch), I’ll do everything in my power to get you beat and take you down.” Bevin “absolutely, categorically” denied Sinnette’s charge.

Dec. 30, 2015: House Democratic leadership names Rep. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard, as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Dec. 31, 2015: Deadline for candidates to switch party registration and appear on May primary ballot under new party affiliation.

Jan. 7, 2016: House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover says that the following Monday could be a historic day in House.

Jan. 11, 2016: Monday is not a historic day in House.

March 3, 2016: Mike Hancock resigns as Transportation Cabinet secretary without giving a specific reason.

March 8, 2016: Democrats stun Republicans by winning three of four House special elections.

March 15, 2016: Deadline in contract to start work on East Brannon Road project is missed. This means the state must pay damages to contractor, The Allen Company.

March 24, 2016: East Brannon Road project is formally halted.

May 23, 2016: State’s contract with Allen Company modified saying the state will pay $625,000 in liquidated damages, but the state can issue a notice to proceed on or before May 1, 2017.

June 7, 2016: Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas announces “Pause-50” plan halting starts in all phases of state-funded highway construction projects through first year of new budget with a goal of allocating $50 million in second year for state-funded project starts.

July 1, 2016: CNHI News publishes story in which Sinnette said Bevin threatened him politically and attacked him personally when he rebuffed the governor’s request that he switch to the Republican Party.

July 13, 2016: At a news conference in Capitol Rotunda, Bevin calls Sinnette comment a lie.

July 18, 2016: Transportation Cabinet issues order approving the $625,000 damages payment to The Allen Company.

Aug. 17, 2016: The Courier-Journal reveals that the state paid $625,000 in damages to The Allen Company because the Jessamine County road project did not start on time. Bevin Transportation Cabinet blames Beshear for irresponsibly rushing project that had no hope of starting on time. Beshear said there was no legitimate reason for Bevin administration to halt the project.

Aug. 27, 2016: CNHI News reports Meyer’s allegation that he was threatened by Brickman in December phone call.

May 1, 2017: Date that work must begin on the Jessamine County road project or the state must pay an additional $850,000 to The Allen Company.

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