Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin apologized Sunday for saying that children were sexually abused because they were left home alone while teachers rallied to ask lawmakers to override his vetoes.
The Republican issued his apology in a nearly four-minute video posted online, saying “it is not my intent to hurt anybody in this process, but to help us all move forward together.”
On Friday, Bevin’s explosive comments were part of his statement criticizing teachers for leaving work to protest at the Capitol. More than 30 school districts closed Friday.
Bevin’s comments came shortly after Republican lawmakers voted to override his vetoes of an operating budget that included increased spending for public education with the help of an accompanying tax increase.
The GOP-led Kentucky House later approved a pair of resolutions condemning Bevin’s comments.
Bevin apologized several times in Sunday’s video and said many people misunderstood and “did not fully appreciate” his earlier statement.
“It’s my responsibility to represent you, not only when I’m speaking to you, but when I’m speaking on your behalf in ways that are clear, that are understood, that don’t hurt people and don’t confuse people,” he said.
“And so the extent that I do that well, great. And to the times when I don’t do it well, that’s on me. I’m sorry for those of you, every single one of you, that has been hurt by things that I’ve said.”
Robin Cooper, an occupational therapist in Fayette County, the state’s second-largest public school district, was among the thousands of educators protesting at the Capitol in recent weeks. Cooper voted for Bevin in 2015 and vowed Saturday not to do it again.
And after watching the video Sunday, she said, “Seriously? That’s not much of an apology. I think he’s gotten so much heat that he had to say something,” Cooper said. “But it still wasn’t an apology. It was still him defending his words. Everyone heard his words. I don’t know how we can misunderstand his intent. So that just kind of makes me angry.”
House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said in a statement that while Bevin claims there was a misunderstanding, “the people of Kentucky heard loud and clear what he said and today’s video shows he still does not comprehend why so many were understandably upset.
“The teachers and public employees he has insulted over the past year deserve much more than this.”
Telephone messages left with spokesmen Kentucky House Republicans and the Kentucky Education Association weren’t immediately returned Sunday.