As part of his interview on Breitbart News Sunday, show host and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon pressed businessman Matt Bevin on the lines of attack Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign has pushed about him–specifically ones dealing with liens against his family’s bell company and a government grant it received after a fire burned it down.
“The basic slam on you from Sen. McConnell has been, to date, and there are some policy differences, but they [McConnell’s team] say he [Bevin] is not a Kentuckian, that he is a northern con man,” Bannon said to Bevin.
They point to this knit or whatever it was in your resume by MIT, and you had gone to some extended management course like Harvard has, and this issue about your family’s company, the bell company, that you guys had tried to save and they had something about a filing that you had where there was a lien and somebody had filed you had no liens when you took $100,000 to rebuild the burnt down factory. How do you come back on that, because that’s the way you’re being positioned [by McConnell’s operatives] today, as this northern con man? What’s your comeback?
Bevin responded by saying “those things, they’re such a push.”
“My goodness, McConnell has a 35 percent approval rating in Kentucky so he is the least popular Senator in America among his own constituents so in fairness the only path he has to victory is to try to make me and anyone else running against him less popular than he is, which is going to be quite an effort,” Bevin said.
:So he will stop literally at nothing, including making up lies which is what he has been doing,” Bevin claimed. “And it’s interesting–Washington Post, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and even the Courier-Journal, which as you know is no super friend of mine, have run article after article some in nauseating detail basically debasing and debunking all of these claims, which are just baloney.”
About the bell company, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, Bevin walked Breitbart News Sunday readers through how his uncle was the fifth generation figure in his family running the company. The company had some liens under his uncle’s management, liens Bevin paid off when he took over in August 2011 after his uncle became sick.
My dad was never involved with it, but his brother was. He had been the fifth generation running it. It’s a little bell maker, a little company that barely survived and was completely underwater that in fact was going to be shut down. There was a lot of history and there was a lot of good employees at the time, 15 or 16 employees there, and I didn’t want to see these people lose their jobs. I had first started helping my uncle financially. He had some health issues so his eye was off the ball, and a lot of tax liens and things against that little company. So in August of 2011, I said you know what let me just take this company over so I did and became president in August of 2011. I paid off all those liens. So the irony is everything that I’m being vilified for, I actually am the guy that cleaned them all up. And the stuff about the applications, there was a $100,000 matching grant that the state of Connecticut gave to this company after it had burned down. I personally signed for it to create 12 permanent jobs and keep them for 5 years in Connecticut. So it’s basically 60 years worth of jobs that I have to repay that $100,000 grant.
Nonetheless, McConnell’s team runs a website titled “BailoutBevin.com” attacking him over the matter. On the website, McConnell’s campaign said Bevin took a “bailout” and alleges that he misled state officials about the liens he paid off from his uncle’s management of the company in order to get such a “bailout.”
Despite McConnell’s attempt to portray this as negative for Bevin and his campaign, Bevin said because of the history of the company, who it makes bells for, and how he was able to save several jobs for people who need them, he thinks of it more as a positive.
“All of this McConnell has tried to whip into a negative somehow but this little company is an extraordinary little company,” Bevin said. “We make all the bells that the Salvation Army uses, kettle-ringers. We made the bells that gave Clarence his wings in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ We made the bell that was on the U.S.S. Maine that was sunk in Havana Harbor, and Good Humor ice cream bells, a lot of history, a lot of reasons to keep going.”
Bannon asked Bevin if he plans to release more internal company documents to debunk more of McConnell’s claims, and he said people should instead look at his financial disclosure forms for his U.S. Senate candidacy.
“Well they can look on my financial disclosure and see what the value of this company is and see that it’s paltry,” Bevin said. “A lot of the value of that company is what I’ve put back into it after it burned down because I’ve had to buy equipment and other things.”
“It is really a tiny, tiny thing,” Bevin added, before asking Bannon a question: “Think about this, have you ever bought a bell, Steve?”
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a bell,” Bannon answered.
“Most of your listeners have probably never bought one either,” Bevin continued. “That’s the thing. It’s a step ahead of buggy whips. But I’ve got 16 employees right now, 14 full time and two part time. It’s a good little company that employs people and gives them those rungs of the ladder.”
Bannon asked if it was a “fundamental difference” between Bevin’s bell company’s matching grant from the state of Connecticut–which McConnell has tried to frame as a “bailout”–and McConnell’s support for the 2008 financial bailout, the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Bevin said he would not have voted for TARP like McConnell did “because I’ll tell you Hank Paulsen at that time wasn’t working for Goldman [Sachs]. At that time he was the Secretary of the Treasury.”
“You understand this issue better than some,” Bevin told Bannon. “I had huge issues with the fact that we picked winners and losers. Bankers didn’t go up to Capitol Hill, they were dragged up there. Jamie Dimon didn’t say ‘hey help me out.’ They were all in there, about 10 of them, and they were told: ‘Hey this is how it’s going to go down. We’re going to decide who of you is going to fail and who of you is not.'”
After detailing several of the back room bailout negotiations between Paulsen and several of the big banks, Bevin noted that the “whole thing was so arbitrary. It was the government picking winners and losers. It was an abdication of free market principles. I had a problem with how it went down.”