A brutal new television ad will hit airwaves in Kentucky this week ahead of November’s gubernatorial election slamming incumbent Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear for signing an order in early 2020, at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, authorizing the release from prison of a “monster” who sodomized a six-year-old child.
James Hamlin, whose Facebook page remains public and filled with disgusting comments about sexual involvement with minors, was arrested in Kentucky accused of sodomizing a child. Shortly after Hamlin was initially imprisoned, though, Beshear — the Democrat governor of Kentucky currently seeking reelection this year — issued an executive order at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic pushing to release him and hundreds of other criminals from custody. It is unclear if Hamlin was ever actually released into the public, or if he was kept in custody in a mental institution, as the prison records are not the clearest. But Hamlin was rearrested a couple weeks after Beshear’s initial order, and later convicted on the charges of sodomizing a minor under 12 years old and incest with a victim under 12 years old. Prison records show that he is expected to serve time behind bars until 2044, with the earliest possible parole date coming in 2039.
“James Hamlin sodomized a young child, only six years old,” a narrator says over video of the perpetrator in the new ad from School Freedom Fund, a group aligned with the conservative Club for Growth. “He was arrested, and thrown behind bars — where he belongs — yet Andy Beshear signed an order intended to release Hamlin from jail. What Kentucky child is safe when their governor wants to let monsters like Hamlin roam free? When Beshear puts deviant predators before innocent kids, it’s not just wrong it’s unforgivable.”
WATCH SCHOOL FREEDOM FUND AD “MONSTERS”:
School Freedom Fund points to Beshear’s order on April 10, 2020, titled “Conditional Commutation of Sentence” which makes clear that due to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Kentucky prisons the governor believed it was necessary to “reduce the inmate population in the overcrowded prisons and jails in Kentucky,” as the reason why the governor originally authorized the release of Hamlin from prison in April 2020.
“The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet presented written application and proposal for the commutation of sentences of 697 inmates who are currently serving sentences for non-violent, non-sexual offenses set to expire on or before September 30, 2020,” the Democrat governor’s order reads.
Sure enough, the order included an alphabetical list of names of prisoners that Beshear intended to release — including Hamlin’s name. Hamlin appears on the 9th page of the 19-page document.
Prison records show that Hamlin was rearrested less than three weeks later, on April 30, 2020. He was convicted a few months after that, in September 2020, and is currently serving a decades-long sentence behind bars. But, like around 1,700 other criminals Beshear pushed for the release of due to COVID in Kentucky in April and in August 2021, he never would have had even the chance of freedom he got if Beshear was not the governor of the state.
“While this blatant disregard for public safety is disgusting and should leave you outraged, it unfortunately comes as no surprise that another radical Democrat put their pro-crime agenda over public well-being,” School Freedom Fund President David McIntosh, who also leads the affiliated Club for Growth, said in a statement. “This consequence-free approach to criminal justice is a tenet of the extreme socialism being championed by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Gov. Phil Murphy at the Democratic Governors Association. The silence from Beshear and his allies is a clear endorsement of the policies that are jeopardizing the lives of hard-working families. What will it take for Beshear, Murphy, and others to admit the failure in policy and leadership?”
The explosive ad, reminiscent of the Willie Horton ads against Democrat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election, has the potential to upend the 2023 gubernatorial election in Kentucky. Beshear in November will face GOP gubernatorial nominee Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a black conservative backed by among other top Republicans former President Donald Trump. Current public polling in the race shows Beshear’s lead in the mid-to-high single digits, but an ad like this—so jarring in the way that it frightens ordinary citizens with the fact their governor moved to release someone from jail who did something so heinous—could change the trajectory of the race.
The missteps with Beshear’s handling of the release of prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic’s early days is nothing new for him politically, even though this new ad’s shocking frankness has the potential to take the issue to another level. The same group behind it, School Freedom Fund, earlier this year launched a missive against Beshear along the exact same lines with a broader ad highlighting convicts a narrator says had “means and motive” when Beshear released them too. The Beshear-released criminals highlighted in that earlier ad were convicted of heinous crimes like murder and sexual abuse.
In 2021, the Administrative Office of Courts in Kentucky released a blistering report about the 1,700 convicts Beshear freed showing that many of the more than 1,700 criminals he freed recommitted offenses upon their release.
“The report found that of the total 1,704 who had their sentences commuted by Beshear, 553 were later charged with felonies,” the Kentucky-based WLKY CBS affiliate wrote in 2021 about the report. “And while it doesn’t specifically list the type of charges, the report lumps those who were charged by felonies and misdemeanors.”
Several other ads that School Freedom Fund has dropped into the Kentucky governor race this year, too, also highlight other heinous crimes committed by convicts that Beshear released from prison — including the murder right before Christmas of an innocent father by one such convict and the sexual abuse of a young child.
Sources familiar with the matter, too, add that Kentuckians should expect more such ads in the final weeks of the election.
There are three major governor elections this year, in 2023, in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In Mississippi, GOP Gov. Tate Reeves is seeking reelection but Republicans have opportunities to flip both Kentucky’s and Louisiana’s governor’s mansions from blue to red in 2023 in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential elections. If the GOP can take back one or both governor’s mansions, and hold Mississippi, it would be a massive shot in the arm for a party that struggled in the 2022 midterm elections.