Seldom am I more frustrated than when I agree with Gov. Matt Bevin. Hopefully, this will be the last time.
Last week, an email slamming Bevin’s challenger for governor, Attorney General Andy Beshear, was sent to public school teachers through their school email addresses. Teachers were rightfully outraged, but for the wrong reason. More on that in a second…
The email — titled “The Truth About Andy Beshear” — came from “Albert Wells.” The email, as reported by the Courier Journal, reads like a greatest-hits album produced in the studios of FOX News, including threats that Democrats will raise taxes and start a “new war on coal.” It refers to Beshear as “Andy Obama.”
The GOP is quite a barrel of laughs… or monkeys.
The teachers and their union, the Kentucky Education Association, tried to attack Bevin by claiming it is illegal to use government emails for political purposes. However, in this instance, the emails were sent from a private email account.
Bevin told reporters he didn’t know the source of the email but that the teachers’ outrage is misplaced:
“What concern would somebody have that somebody emailed someone else and asked them to vote for somebody? When did we get offended that people advocate for or against a candidate during an election season?”
He’s right. He’s condescending and abrasive, but he’s right that the email was not illegal and that the teachers should not be getting angry about receiving it.
Truth is, it would not matter if Albert Wells is an alias used by Bevin’s campaign, or if Albert Wells is his campaign manager: It’s perfectly legal to send an email to a government account.
The KEA called on state Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis to investigate the email. Said Lewis, “It’s not anything that’s illegal. It’s nothing I can control. And the call for me or the state board of education to investigate, that is ridiculous.”
Lewis also issued a lengthy letter to school superintendents explaining, “… [I]t is possible for third parties to find names and/or their e-mail addresses located on the district’s website or figure out a Kentucky educator’s public email address if they know their name and the district they work in and thus create their own email distribution group for their own use.
He also is correct.
The union and teachers are wrong: They need to focus on the message they received, instead of attacking how the message was delivered.
They might ask: How could whoever sent the email possibly think it would win votes from teachers?
Did that person think the email could undo three years of Bevin attacking teachers’ pensions, performance and integrity?
Would it un-pass the Bevin-pushed bill that brought Kentucky charter schools, which will allow privately run schools to siphon tax dollars away from public schools? How does the email persuade teachers that charter schools will not segregate the best students from the rest, making it even harder on struggling students and their teachers?
Did it address Bevin’s dismantling of the Kentucky Board of Education, replacing the remaining seven of 11 members he had not yet appointed with his own picks… none of whom had experience in public education? This new board also forced out the commissioner, making way for Lewis’ appointment.
Did the email writer explain away how Bevin’s most recent budget proposal would cut almost $200 million from public education by shifting the cost of transportation and insurance to local school districts?
Bevin has publicly attacked individual teachers, including publicly shaming a middle school teacher who sent a personal, presumably private email to the governor.
When the teachers left their schools to protest Bevin’s attempt to reform their pension system, he said their absences from the classrooms would result in the sexual assault of a student who was stuck at home with a parent.
He even blamed the shooting of a 7-year-old girl on the teachers’ protest.
Instead of crying over an email sent to them at their schools, the KEA and teachers need to keep hammering on this list of outrageous and wrongheaded offenses.
Focus on the message and the man.
If they can do that effectively, then maybe that email will be the last they’ll have to receive from Gov. Bev… uh, Albert Wells. •