The Kentucky Coal Association is under fire for again planning a closed-door meeting with the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates.
KCA President Bill Bissett told CN2 last week that the major party candidates for Kentucky governor — Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway — would be speaking during private events at the association’s annual meeting in October.
This would be the second private meeting between energy industry representatives and the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates. Bissett moderated a secret debate this summer in Virginia between Conway and Bevin before coal industry leaders.
The closed-door meetings have drawn criticism from media outlets. In a recent column, Courier-Journal political reporter Joseph Gerth wrote that open discussions are especially important in the close gubernatorial election “because neither of the candidates has been terribly accessible.”
Bissett told WFPL he’s surprised by the criticism. He said both candidates have voiced support for coal throughout the campaign, so he doesn’t expect the discussions to be particularly newsworthy.
“I think this is really much to do about nothing, because these two candidates —especially Conway and Bevin — are very clear about their positions on coal,” Bissett said.
He said he was also surprised to hear there was any media interest in his group’s annual meeting.
“It is a little strange that there is the interest this time, which is fine,” he said. “But thus far, we have still not received any actual requests from the media to attend. So if we get some, we will react to them and talk to our membership and come up with a decision.”
So far, the Conway campaign has confirmed he will attend the event. The Bevin campaign has yet to return requests for comment.