GOP 4-way run in Primary heating up…two weeks away!
Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin Thursday stood by his allegation that campaign rival Hal Heiner had shared that he knew unfavorable facts about fellow GOP candidate James Comer, but once again declined to share specifics.
Bevin also told The Enquirer that he had no knowledge about whether Heiner’s campaign had tried to pay a woman to come forward with allegations against Comer, as Comer alleged Wednesday.
“It’s just sad really, to what this has devolved to, sad for our state of Kentucky and sad for our country,” said Bevin, a Louisville-area businessman now considered to be in a tight race with Heiner and Comer for the GOP nomination (the primary is May 19). “But as of now, I am trying to stay out of it.”
On Monday, Marilyn Thomas of New York City accused Comer of physically assaulting her and helping her get an abortion while the two were dating in college at Western Kentucky University. The story was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Comer has consistently denied the charges, saying he has no idea what could have prompted the allegations.
On Wednesday, Bevin didn’t appear to pull any punches during a debate on a statewide sports radio show when he said Heiner had told him “that he knew things” about Comer.
“I don’t know if he’s behind the Comer story, but I’m telling you his people have been pushing this for a long time,” Bevin said at the time. “And Hal himself has personally told me months and months ago before I even got in this race, that he knew things, not had heard things, that he knew things based on conversations that his people had had about Jamie Comer. You told me that yourself, Hal. You told me in your office to my face.
“The reality is Hal Heiner is not who he pretends to be.”
When asked about those comments and specifics in a meeting with the Enquirer editorial board Thursday, Bevin said he stood by the comments but declined to offer any details about that conversation.
“I stand by exactly what I said, and I have nothing to add to it,” Bevin said. “My intent is not to dig further into this tawdry affair that we have found ourselves in.”
He added that he made those comments because Heiner “sat there and told people that he had no knowledge of this, that he got wind of it and that he nipped it in the bud.”
“Facts matter and the truth matters, and in the end the truth will come out,” Bevin said.
Bevin did add that the campaign was generally a “civil one” until last month, when Heiner and political action committees backing Heiner started airing negative ads around the state. Bevin denied the charges in the ad about him, which accused him of taking tax incentives for a company even though it owed back taxes.
“It’s bunk, it’s always been bunk ever since the McConnell campaign tried to use it last year,” said Bevin, who unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, in the GOP primary in 2014.
In a meeting with the Enquirer editorial board Wednesday, Comer accused the Heiner campaign of prompting Thomas to come forward by offering her money. He said he couldn’t offer proof because he was cooperating with an investigation conducted by a Kenton County grand jury. It is looking into allegations that a blogger linked with the Heiner campaign and with the abuse rumors had threatened the daughters of Comer’s running mate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill.
Bevin said he had no knowledge of that and declined to comment on those allegations.
“Matt Bevin has spent the last two years attacking Republicans and coordinated with outside groups in his Senate campaign,” Heiner campaign spokesman Kyle Robertson said. “He will say anything to get elected and is desperate to be in elected office.”
On Wednesday, Robertson accused Comer of being “desperate to save his failing campaign” with the allegations of a possible payoff offer.
“After calling Ms. Thomas a good person last week, now Jamie Comer is questioning his accuser’s mental health and completely lying about Hal Heiner. His wild accusations are completely false and backed up only by the delusions of his own mind. He has not offered one shred of evidence,” Robertson said.
The fourth GOP candidate, Will T. Scott, also said he didn’t want to discuss any of the allegations in a separate meeting with the editorial board.
He also distanced himself from the comments of his campaign manager on the online version of the Enquirer story Thursday.
“Jamie Comer has answered an unsubstantiated rumor with an unsubstantiated rumor of his own. What an amazing tactical blunder. It looked for a day like his campaign might be turning a scandal into an Aqua Buddha type takedown of Hal Heiner, but now the story is Comer’s accuser challenging him to take a polygraph test. Popcorn!” wrote Scott’s campaign manager David Adams.
Said Scott: “Those were his comments, and I am focused on the problems Kentucky has now and on the future.”
By James Pilcher
The Kentucky Enquirer