Clinton, KY - March 8, 2016
New speculation is running through the halls of Frankfort about the increase in Governor Bevin's security. State workers, lobbyists, media, and state policy makers have noticed that a new protective circle now exists around the Governor that wasn't there when he was elected.
On the night of the budget address in the House of Representatives, there were two state troopers working as a coordinated security team for the Governor. This is a normal number of a security team for the Governor.
Bevin attended the National Governors Association meeting in Washington DC, some two weeks ago. His office will not comment on how many guards were there for protection. His office claims that this line of information is to be used only for homeland security planning and not for general public knowledge.
Getting facts and data out of the Governor's Office is becoming more and more a problem for reporters. Bevin does not like the media. He is developing a "hands on direct route" to the people through social media channels. Bevin does not like hard questions about his job performance. This he shares with presidential candidate Donald Trump. Both are men of the corporate world where hard questions are not heard. Bevin is a creature of the tea party movement and such, by his very nature, is very distrustful of the so called establishment media.
In modern Kentucky times, this behavior has been seen with three governors: (1) John Y. Brown (2) Wallace Wilkinson and (3) Ernie Fletcher. All three men promised to run state government as a business.
Governor John Y. Brown (1979 to 1983)
Gov. John Y. Brown (D) had an intense fear of people, the public, and media. He often worked in his pajamas at odd times of the night and day. His fear of "who was out to get him" resulted in the hiring of Neal Welch, Deputy Director of the FBI.
This action blew up in the Governor's face when, after six months on the job of investigating state legislators with a special "GOD Squad", Welch secretly went after the Governor. The GOD Squad was a secret team that worked 24 hours days to tape and listen in on all of Governor Brown's activities.
State police detail to give security to Brown consisted of 2 to 3 state troopers as events occurred. The GOD Squad usually numbered about 5 to 8 members reporting directly to Neil Welch.
Wallace G. Wilkinson (1987-1991)
Another businessman, Wallace G. Wilkinson, had little use for the status quo or government. He ran a total outsider campaign for governor.
At the time, David Doak, a Washington D.C. consultant, "When you get to Wallace Wilkinson you find out that what defines him is his disdain for the establishment and his guts. He didn't go to the governor's office to cut ribbons, he went there to change things, and he did.
But the real story is how he took on the powerful, and challenged the establishment on behalf of the "little people" from whence he came, and who remain his cause."
Normal security team for the governor was two to three state troopers.
Governor Ernie Fletcher (2003 to 2007)
Fletcher came to Frankfort on a crusade to take down the establishment and put in a new Republican base that would last a generation. From day one, he ran into trouble with the Kentucky Legislature over the budget process. Before he could bend state government to his will, his administration started to collapse.
From the beginning, Fletcher didn't understand the ins and outs of running the modern system of overlapping and complex day to day operations of 25, 000 state workers. Within six months his administration started to have legal problems over handling of state merit workers. Within the year, his administration was fighting for its legal life.
During these times, security was kept to between two or three state troopers.
Governor Matt Bevin (Elected 2015)
Not even four months into his term of office, Bevin has fallen into the trap or curse of the other three reform governors. Common to all three earlier governors (Brown, Wilkinson, and Fletcher) were these facts: (1) businessmen, who wanted to run state government as a business, (2) did not play well with state legislators, (3) hated the media and wouldn't work with them, and (4) didn't like to work with the people and stayed in a siege mental state of mind.
Bevin seems to be adopting this play book from the above earlier governors. The biggest difference is the growing protective bubble being built around the governor.
Experts in state government are wondering what force is driving this rush to add more and more security to the Office of Governor. Maybe this is a sign of our times. Maybe this to be the new normal for protecting the Governor from people, media, and anyone else that may want to interject their feelings, interests, or threats to the governor.
We may never know for sure what is happening. We live a new security world. This is but one signal to that reality in Kentucky state government.