Major donor to Kentucky's GOP governor once mocked 'idiots' hurt in Great Recession


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is cashing checks from a man who laughed at people who lost money in 2008's Great Recession.

Millionaire real estate investor Leo Wells once openly mocked those who were hurt by the economic crash in 2008, but that didn't stop Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky's embattled Republican governor, from cashing a campaign contribution from Wells.

At the University of Georgia in 2010, Wells gave an entire speech about how much he enjoyed the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession. Wells even titled the speech, "Why I Love This Recession."

In the speech, Wells laughed at families who were not able to buy their house and cars and everything they needed with cash. And he was glad for the recession, saying the service at the Ritz Carlton was much better after the crash because those catering to all of Wells' whims "value their jobs now."

He also noted that only "the idiots of the room are in debt."

Fast forward to 2019, and Wells is pouring money into Bevin's reelection campaign. According to official records, Wells and his wife donated $4,000 to Bevin's campaign, the maximum allowed under Kentucky law.

Kentucky is one of a few states holding gubernatorial elections in November 2019.

While Wells may have laughed his way through the 2008 recession, residents of Kentucky were hit hard by the crisis, including investments in education. Kentucky was one of the states that chopped the education budget the most over the past decade, according to a 2017 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The cuts in state funding for schools was a result of budget shortfalls beginning with the 2008 recession.

Yet none of this stopped Bevin from depositing the maximum allowable contribution from Wells. Given Bevin's standing in the state, he may need all the help he can get from whatever source is willing to help.

Bevin is the least popular governor in the country. In fact, he is so unpopular that a state senator of his own party made a video endorsing his Democratic challenger, Andy Beshear.

"This is not about partisan politics," said Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, "this is about who's going to lead this state for the next four years."

Bevin is facing a rebellion from his own party, so it makes sense he will collect campaign cash wherever he can, even from someone who mocked the millions hurt in the 2008 recession.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.