'Without fear or favor': Daniel Cameron discusses his role as Kentucky's attorney general

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FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Like most people, Daniel Cameron has had a challenging year. That's not just because of the personal and professional effects the coronavirus has had on his life, but also because of how the color of his skin and his political affiliation have placed him in the center of the defining issues of modern governing.

The Kentucky attorney general, the first Republican elected to the office since 1944 and the first black American elected statewide in his own right, was sworn into office just weeks before the pandemic hit his state and the rest of the nation.

Almost immediately, the restrictions that Gov. Andy Beshear placed on the commonwealth during the pandemic put Cameron at odds with the first man who gave him work as an attorney at their old firm and whose office is just down the hall from him in the elegant Beaux-Arts-style state capitol building.

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron called the state’s child abuse cases “a scourge that has plagued our commonwealth for far too long.” The nearly 3,000 pinwheels have been placed by volunteers as a reminder of children who need protecting.
(Photo by Salena Zito)

The two men have been in a legal battle over the breadth of the governor’s emergency powers to restrict businesses, individuals, and religious schools. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Cameron's legal challenge of Beshear's executive order halting in-person classes at Kentucky's religious schools, but Cameron believes it was still the right thing for his office to do.

“We didn't get the ruling that we wanted in our case,” he told me this week at the state capitol, “but subsequently, the United States Supreme Court in a couple of decisions said that in-person religiously affiliated schools should be protected by the First Amendment.”

“We have got to stand up for our citizens,” he said. “We've got to stand up for the right to be able to freely exercise their worship.”

Last May, when the county prosecutor in Louisville recused himself from the Breonna Taylor shooting case, Cameron said he never hesitated about taking up the case, knowing full well the scrutiny he would face because of the color of his skin combined with the political party he represents.

“I sat right at that desk,” he said, pointing. “My deputy attorney general said, ‘It's likely that the commonwealth's attorneys have conflicted out of this case. What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘We'll take it,’ without any reservation, because that is the responsibility of this office. If you are committed to public service, if you're committed to the idea that this office is not about me or my political future, or limiting in my exposure. It's not about any of that. It's about doing what is right based on the facts and the law. And regardless of how it impacts you down the road, none of that matters.”

As the investigation continued last summer, social justice activists became impatient, ultimately leading to protesters trespassing in his yard and 87 arrests.

Cameron announced weeks later the results of the state grand jury investigation into the fatal shooting of Taylor. Two of the police officers who shot her would not be charged, while a third officer would be charged with wanton endangerment for jeopardizing the lives of Taylor’s neighbors.

Cameron said at the time he understood “the pain that has been brought about by the tragic loss of Ms. Taylor. I understand that as an attorney general. I understand that as a black man, how painful this is. Which is why it was so incredibly important to make sure that we did everything that we possibly could.”

Since last year, Cameron has also gotten engaged and married, headlined at the Republican National Convention, been able to balance a deep friendship with both his mentor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former President Donald Trump, two men often at odds with each other personally, and worked to fulfill campaign promises he made when running for office.

Through it all, he has remained a charismatic yet steady force many conservatives and independents across the country find appealing.

Cameron discussed that along with fulfilling his campaign promise of focusing on the drug epidemic, human trafficking, and child abuse, as well as how he always leans in on his faith to guide him and get him through the highs and lows of his role as a son, husband, and the protector of the law in his state.

Washington Examiner: Congratulations on your recent nuptials, how did you meet?

Daniel Cameron: Well, it's interesting. We saw each other at church, we were attending the same church at the time. But didn't really speak to each other until a couple of weeks after that. I was going up to Northern Kentucky for an event, and went to a Starbucks that I never go to. Stopped at that Starbucks, saw this mutual friend who said, “Hey, my friend Makenze saw you at church and expressed some interest in you.” I said, ‘Well, I'll reach out to her and maybe we can grab coffee or dinner.’ And then, that following Friday we had dinner and have been inseparable since. So, that was January of last year, and got married in July.

Washington Examiner: How important was having that connection through faith?

Daniel Cameron: It's incredibly important to both of us. We see our marriage … And you hear this talked about in Christian culture all the time, which is essentially a triangle. Right? You've got myself and Makenze on one side, but at the apex, if you will, is Christ. And so, as we grow closer to him we grow closer to each other. And especially in the midst of some challenging times, whether it's COVID-19 or other challenges that we have here in Kentucky, you can find great comfort in Christ. And for us, being able to have that bond that we know without question is what connects us, is really special.

And I remember when I first introduced her to my mom, my mom was telling all my other family members just how great she was. And Makenze at the time was doing some work for a human trafficking organization in Mobile, and for vulnerable women, that sort of thing. And my mother said, “This is a Proverbs 31 woman, someone who loves the Lord and is rooted in our faith. And so, that's meant a great deal to me, to have that stamp of approval from my mom and other family members.

And just to know that every day I go home, I go home to a godly woman who loves the Lord and is interceding on my behalf with Him in prayer and petition. And it is a … There's no feeling like it. No feeling like it.

Washington Examiner: Let’s talk about your first year plus in office, there is a pandemic, you get married, you have the Breonna Taylor case in front of you and you give a speech at the Republican National Convention. Since we were talking about faith how did your faith guide you through each step?

Daniel Cameron: As Christians you try to live each day as a member of a community, and that's the community of Christ and the community of believers. And so, faith is a part of every movement and every moment of my life. And so, you just try to live out your Christian principles. And so, from my perspective, and I full-heartedly believe that most people here in this office ascribe to this as well, you want to do everything with the idea that being a good neighbor, and showing and demonstrating that love and compassion through your comments and through your actions. Now, we've got a responsibility to stand up for constitutional rights in this office. We've got a responsibility to defend the citizens of the commonwealth.

But anything that we do in this office, I try to keep the perspective that my words, and my comments, and how I represent myself in this office, but beyond that, how I represent my wife, and how I represent my mom, I try to keep that in the back of my mind. And in any philosophy, a liberal philosophy, I think it's OK to have criticism of the other philosophy. I'm a conservative and I have different views from the liberals. But I try not to speak in caustic or offensive terms. That's just how I was raised, and I hope that people recognize and appreciate the way that I try to approach each subject and each topic as I discuss it. I try not to throw anybody under the bus, or call names, or any of that. It's just not my style. And I think that reflects just the relationship that I have in Christ, and try to keep within that in the back of my mind.

Washington Examiner: Your comportment in each challenge is rarely confrontational. Explain that in an environment that thrives off of confrontation.

Daniel Cameron: I think it's important. I think that, especially in this climate, taking a step back and recognizing that we can have fierce disagreements about policy, fierce disagreements about the right approach in moving forward with this country. But I think you need to do it with a smile on your face, and I think you attract more people with honey than vinegar. And I think that is a common refrain that's told by everybody, and I firmly believe it. And I know, whether it's Ronald Reagan or others that was something that attracted people to the Republican Party or to conservative values and principles. And really talking about what we are for is important as well, and I try to keep that in my mind as well, as I share my thoughts on conservatism and being a Republican.

Washington Examiner: You were sworn in in January of 2020…

Daniel Cameron: Actually yes and no. So, I got sworn in actually twice. Because then A.G. Beshear was moving into the governorship, in some weird quirk of state law, the governor takes office in the December prior to all the other statewide elected officers. So, he took office Dec. 10, and then he appointed me on Dec. 17 to take the rest of his … I guess to take over the rest of his term, if you will. And then, in January I got appointed to the beginning of my term as well.

Washington Examiner: What's your relationship like with the governor?

Daniel Cameron: We work together. The first law firm I worked at after my clerkship was Stites & Harbison. And so, he was in fact the first attorney to get me work there. And I've said that on numerous occasions I've got no animus towards him. I understand from the perspective that, whether it was President Trump, or now President Biden, or governors, or county judge executives, or mayors, they've got a responsibility to keep people safe. But what I firmly believe is that we have an equal responsibility to stand up for people's constitutional rights. And so, we try to strike the right balance.

And again, we've entered in none of the litigation or lawsuits with any animus. It's just based on being present, and being responsible in our role as the Office of Attorney General to defend the constitutional rights of our citizens. So, I tend to think we've got a good relationship. Again, I've got no qualms with him on a personal level. All of our disagreements are just on legal matters and policy matters. And I respect him, and I hope he respects me as well.

Washington Examiner: During the onset of the pandemic where there things you had to work together on?

Daniel Cameron: The governor, in his emergency capacity, does things related to implementing price-gouging laws during a pandemic, or during an emergency, just generally. And so, initially that is what occurred. He executed an emergency, or declared an emergency. And then at that point he triggered the price-gouging statutes. And so, from that point of view we've had a responsibility in this office to look out for price gouging, and anybody who's trying to take advantage of this pandemic and increase prices, we've been very vigilant on that front.

In fact, one of the things that we did towards the beginning of the pandemic, is work with my colleague down in Tennessee, Herb Slatery, the A.G. there. There were two brothers who were traveling through Kentucky buying all this personal protective, PPE, and then with the intent of going to Tennessee and then selling it at a markup. We got word of that. We worked with General Slatery….People had some conversations with these two brothers. They relinquished all those goods. We were able to take part of what was given back to us, and distribute it to first responder units.

And so, that was a big win for us. Just recently we were able to get a lot of parents' money back from a trip that got canceled because of the pandemic. And so, there's been a lot of ways in which our office, in response to some of the emergency declarations that were made, have been able to really help people during a time when they're feeling vulnerable otherwise. And again, we've been able to do that while still standing firm on constitutional principles. We've had other disagreements with the governor about the extent of his executive power and what have you, but we're still able to walk and chew gum at the same time, in terms of our responsibility to be vigilant, and watch out for COVID-19 scams, and the price gouging as I mentioned.

And there are some unemployment benefit challenges that we're having right now as well, so we're working with a federal working group, if you will, to look at and investigate some of those concerns and challenges that might have arisen because of fraud in the unemployment system. So, there's a lot of work to be done. There still continues to be a lot of work to be done. We're seeing a decrease in the number of complaints that we receive as it relates to COVID-19 scams and price-gouging reports. But there is still an uptick, if you will, in challenges related to the unemployment fraud that we've seen here recently.

Washington Examiner: Did your office and his office work together at all during the Breonna Taylor investigation?

Daniel Cameron: We had some communication with their office, and when I say their office I think about the administration at large. The Kentucky State Police had a piece of the investigation because of the investigatory lab that they have. And so we relied on them for some information related to some of the casings and bullets that were at the scene of the incident, and some of the photos, and trying to piece together where things occurred in that apartment. So, we did work specifically with the Kentucky State Police on that angle. But in addition to them, we worked with the FBI.

Our Special Prosecutions Unit is made up of prosecutors and investigators that have over 200 years of combined experience, and then as we got closer to the date of going through grand jury there was an uptick in conversation about how to make sure the grand jury could stay safe, and what have you, with his office. So, I appreciate their help in making sure. And then, when we had our announcement related to those grand jury findings, the Kentucky State Police again came to the table to help secure that event space, and what have you.

Washington Examiner: That had to be a tough time especially when a life is lost and it becomes this flashpoint in the national news, you have all this pressure, all this attention, and you are black.

Daniel Cameron: I absolutely knew it would be challenging. But what I've said from the beginning, and when I was sworn in on Dec. 17, standing right about here, I said, “You know, there are not going to easy … Not always easy answers out of this office, but we're going to endeavor to do our job without fear or favor.” And that is true in all instances and in all situations. And you have to recognize that when you are in public life and in public office, there are going to be decisions that you have to make that, one, people are not going to 100% agree with, and two, that are going to have significant impact on communities, whether it be in a rural area or an urban area.

You have to know that going in, that there are going to be challenges in public life that you have to just be willing at the outset to be ready to confront. And when I ran for this office, I knew that there were going to be things that came around the bend or down the pike, if you will, that we just were not going to know when we walked into this office. And that was certainly the case, whether you look at COVID-19 or if you look at the Breonna Taylor investigation. But what I firmly believe in, is bringing in good people, hiring strong leaders, bringing in a strong and capable team to help you weather the storms, to help you make good and wise decisions to be delivered in the decision-making process, and not jump the gun, and not be captured or enraptured, if you will, by narratives that might exist.

Our responsibility was to the facts as they were, not as people might have imagined them to be. And so, when you look at the facts, you knew that this was going to be a challenging case. But as the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that's why I sit in this seat, is to be in a position to take these cases on. I imagine in a scenario where I could have given this case to another special prosecutor.

Washington Examiner: You could have passed on the case, yet it appears you did not hesitate to take it.

Daniel Cameron: No, I did not. No, the responsible thing is for the attorney general to stand in the gap and to take this case.

I sat right at that desk. My deputy attorney general said, “It's likely that the commonwealth's attorneys have conflicted out of this case. What do you want to do?” And I said, “We'll take it,” without any reservation, because that is the responsibility of this office. And again, knowing at that moment that it would change how this office can be. The spotlight, if you will, or the glare, if you will, or the heat would increase on this office. But again, if you are committed to public service, if you're committed to the idea that this office is not about me or my political future, or limiting in my exposure. It's not about any of that. It's about doing what is right based on the facts in the law. And regardless of how it impacts you down the road, none of that matters. What matters is doing what's appropriate by the law. Our team of prosecutors, and our team of investigators with over 200 years of combined experience, and have unreserved confidence in all of those people. I'm proud of the work that they did. And again, I know that this is a tough case, and that people look at it and made their decisions about it, and what should have happened and what should not have happened. And I understand that, but we did what was right by the law.

Washington Examiner: Let's talk about the future. What's going on in the State? I mean commonwealth just like Pennsylvania…

Daniel Cameron: Well, as an aside, I sat with President Trump when he was still in the White House, and he mentioned the fact that at some point he had called Pennsylvania, ‘The State of Pennsylvania,’ and he had gotten a hard time about it. It was in the context of talking about Kentucky, and noting that it was the Commonwealth of Kentucky, because he knew that because he had memorized all the commonwealths after having made a mistake at some point about calling Pennsylvania the State of Pennsylvania.

But nevertheless…So, what we are vigilant on, after essentially what's been a year and a half in office, is doubling down on some of those priorities that we had initially committed to when I took the oath. And so, for us it was really honing in and focusing on the drug epidemic, and making sure that we're doing everything we possibly could to push back against the scourge of child abuse. Salena, I don't know if you know this, but Kentucky, based on what metric you look at, is number one for incidences of abuse and neglect as it relates to child abuse. And it's really unfortunate for us, for Kentucky to rate number one in that regard.

And so, at the beginning of the term we sat down with a team of stakeholders. Sat down with a covey of charities, and Kentuckian advocates, and medical stakeholders, and other folks in the prosecuting community, and those that render services to vulnerable children and what have you. And came up with a plan about how we can all collectively work together to fight against this challenge that we have here. So, from our part we committed to put together a manual. As an initial step, a manual, a toolkit if you will, to help our investigators and prosecutors better investigate and prosecute child abuse cases. And we unveiled that at the end of last year. It was a child abuse prosecution toolkit.

And it's a small step, but an important step, because, one, it says that we've got some skin in the game in terms of the role and responsibility to fight against this scourge. But it also says that this is a starting point from which this office can continue to do the work of fighting alongside these stakeholders that I mentioned earlier. So, that's really important to us.

Human trafficking, we just received a grant from the Department of Justice's Cops' Program, to the tune of $100,000. That has given us an opportunity to start an awareness campaign called, “Your Eyes Save Lives.” It's a simple message, but it's an important one that tells Kentuckians across the commonwealth that by merely looking, and looking for the signs of human trafficking, whether it be of sex or labor exploitation, you could be the difference between somebody that continues to be subjected to harmful situations, and breaking that cycle. That's important to us as well.

And then I started talking about the drug epidemic. We recently had a pretty important breakthrough here in Kentucky in that there is, as you know, this large global settlement that's occurring related to distributors and manufacturers of opioids. And those folks have decided to come to the table to say, “We want to help with some of the harm that has been done over the past decade as it relates to opioid abuse, and overdose deaths, and addiction challenges, and plights that are happening all across this country.” Kentucky in particular has been hit hard by this epidemic. So, they have decided to come to the table. A lot of attorneys general across the country are sitting across from them, having conversations about what a global settlement looks like.

One of the big factors in that global settlement occurring in those dollars coming back to the respective states, is making sure that any state's specific lawsuits…So, if for instance, I've filed suit against one of these distributors or manufacturers, or one of our state, or one of our cities or counties has filed suit, the distributors and manufacturers, in exchange for the money coming to Kentucky or to other states, are going to ask for a release of those claims. So, just recently this office, along with the President of the Senate, Robert Stivers, along with Speaker Osborne, who is the Speaker of our State House, county attorneys, commonwealth's attorneys, members of what's called our County Judge Executives Committee, and mayors, and other folks, came alongside and sat around a big table and talked about what it looks like for Kentucky to come up with a plan to make sure that we get as much of that money to Kentucky as possible.

I was really proud of the fact that at the end of the day, Kentucky said, whether it be counties or our General Assembly, said, “We're going to split the money 50/50.” So, 50% of the money is going to go to our local municipalities and counties, and the other 50% is going to go to the General Assembly. What the General Assembly is going to be able to do with those dollars is maximize them through other federal avenues that exist.

And then the states and localities … I'm sorry, the counties and localities are going to be able to say, “OK, we know specifically where these dollars are going to go to, to address some of the opioid and abuse challenges that we have, and we know what sort of programs can really help in our specific county or a specific city.” But it took some work for all of us to get together and organize-

What I was equally proud of is the fact that when this bill came up in the House and Senate, overwhelming bipartisan support. I think it passed almost 97 to zero in one chamber, and then about … It was like, 110 or so. There were no, no votes, essentially, in either chamber. And so, that just speaks volumes about what can happen when we put egos aside, when we put our party affiliation aside and say, ‘How we can we best, or how can we be a good neighbor in the midst of these challenges to make sure that we get the dollars and the help that's necessary to ease this affliction and pain that has plagued our people for too long?’

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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stands in front of the 110-year-old towering bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, a native son of the Bluegrass State.
(Photo by Salena Zito)

Washington Examiner: Have you seen any spike of overdose deaths since the pandemic, and/or since the crisis at the border? And what about meth? Despite the older imagery of meth being made in a trailer in some rural area, meth is no longer something made here, it comes across the border. Can you address that as well?

Daniel Cameron: Well, in 2019 in Kentucky we saw about a 5% increase in overdose deaths. We haven't gotten the 2020 numbers yet. But sadly, I think we're going to see an increase. People are not working, people are lost. Isolation is the worst thing for an addict. I'm a little concerned that we're going to see an uptick, if you will, in those numbers.

And you're right. I think, as I talk to law enforcement across Kentucky, you're not seeing meth that's being made in trailers. And it's coming across the border and it's purer and cheaper and purer. So, it's a great challenge. Another thing that we are going to be very vigilant on, and I've taken to referring to our vision for the next few years is a covenant with the commonwealth. And so, from my perspective, covenant, as you know, and it has obviously a Biblical context and a legal context as well, which is essentially this exchange of promises between two parties. And so, what we have committed to doing in this office is standing up for Kentucky's values, making sure that we are being a watchman at the gate, and ultimately, as I have spoken about a little bit earlier, being a good neighbor.

And so, when it comes to standing up for values, we did a lot of that during the pandemic…whether that was making sure that people could exercise their First Amendment right to be free to worship and assemble. We did that, and we got a federal judge that was appointed by President Obama, and we got a federal judge that was appointed by then-President Bush, George W. Bush, who both said we should have in-person church services. And the executive orders that have been implemented by Gov. Beshear violated the First Amendment principle.

When it came to the travel ban that was implemented by the governor, we got a ruling from a federal judge that said that was involutive of constitutional rights. Ultimately the governor backtracked or stepped back from that order and rescinded it. And when it came to religiously affiliated schools, we ultimately took that all the way to the United States Supreme Court. We didn't get the ruling that we wanted in our case, but subsequently the United States Supreme Court in a couple of decisions said that in person religiously affiliated schools should be protected by the First Amendment.

I don't in any want to sound boastful, but I'm proud of the way that this team … And it's not about me, but this team … I've got some really bright and exceptional lawyers here, who repeatedly said, “We have got to stand up for our citizens. We've got to stand up for the right to be able to freely exercise their worship.” I recall that in Hebrews it talks about believers not forsaking the assembly, as others sometimes do. And Matthew talks about two or three are gathering in His name. And so, the folks here in Kentucky really value our First Amendment principles, and our Second Amendment principles, and on down the line. And for some those are punchlines, but for this office they're sacred, and we're going to hold those without fear or favor.

And so, we're going to continue to do that. We're going to continue to stand up for those constitutional values and rights. We're going to continue to be the watchman at the gate, whether it be on opioids, or human trafficking, or child abuse, and be a good neighbor. And we've got several things that we're working out on that front as well. I try to get out about once or twice a month, even in the midst of this pandemic, to hear from folks in different counties, whether it be Magoffin County, or other counties that I've been to. And Boyd County, or Boyle County, or wherever, it is valuable to get out there. I think sometimes the decisions that are made here in Frankfort are sometimes disconnected to the needs of people and their lives. And so, I try to be reminded of my role, not just to what's going on here in Frankfort, but the members of all of our 120 counties. And so, it's good for me to continuously get that feedback and hear a perspective from folks. There is John Palmore, who was a Chief Justice here in Kentucky, said that … And I'm paraphrasing, “We have to do what's required by the law, but our decision-making cannot be devoid of common sense.”

And I think we saw over the course of this last year a lot of decisions that were made that were devoid of common sense. And so, my hope is that this year, through this office and working with others here, our General Assembly has obviously tried to do this, is restore some common sense to our decision-making process here in Kentucky.

Washington Examiner: Oftentimes we talk about human trafficking. But a lot of people don't know what that looks like. How does that happen to someone?

Daniel Cameron: I would say one of the driving factors of human trafficking challenges that we have here in Kentucky is related to the drug epidemic. So, you either have a family member who will pawn off a child in order to feed that habit. Or you have an individual themselves who is an addict, and to help feed that addiction they will in turn be taken advantage of by somebody who realizes that they're addicted to drugs. And so, what I've often shared with people is that if you see somebody that is in your community, that perhaps looks withdrawn, or if they're with somebody and that dynamic or that relationship looks a little bit strange, or they seem to be deferring to, or nervous, or anxious around this other individual. Again those are warning signs, if you will.

If the person is….Their features, their clothing appears to be out of place, or it looks like things are … They look disheveled, or there are … Their hygiene perhaps is not up to standard, those are all signs that could reflect someone that is being human-trafficked. And so, it's, again, important for every Kentuckian to step back and say, ‘OK, how am I using my 360-degree awareness to look out for those that might be involved?’ And trafficking, again, can take the form of sex or labor. And so, here in Kentucky we have a couple of big events that can attract human trafficking challenges, and so … We have the farm machinery show, and the Kentucky Derby.

I know folks in the administration at both of those events. They're doing everything they possibly can, but it just … It happens because there are a lot more people in town, and folks that are involved in these human trafficking rings know that, and so, they'll pick up wherever they are and come to Kentucky when those events occur. And so, we've been working with, again, law enforcement, obviously. But there are a lot of good, nonprofit organizations out there. I was just in Lexington a few weeks ago. There's a group called Natalie's Sisters that helps women who are being exploited or in vulnerable positions. So, there are a lot of good organizations that are part of this fight. It's just about making sure to get awareness out, which we're trying to do through this campaign.

Washington Examiner: What is your responsibility as an AG for your constituents when it comes to what comes out of Washington?

David Cameron: To look out for any overreach that we see from this new administration. And in my judgment, what we saw with the Keystone Pipeline, which is essentially the Biden administration ignoring all procedures related to the Administrative Procedures Act, and just shuttering the pipeline and revoking the permit. That is, in my judgment, a telltale sign of an administration that is tone-deaf to the plight of working men and women in this country. And it's going to be important for … Whether it be Republican AGs or governors in this country, to make sure … And I talked about having a vision for what conservatives should be fighting for in the future.

Let me just say, from the perspective of the Keystone Pipeline, as a state that does not have a pipeline in it, what happens if you don't have that pipeline is you have an increase in transportation cost. Kentucky is a big agricultural state. And so, we need every advantage that we can possibly get as it relates to transporting those commodities out of our state.

If that same transportation that is available to Ag commodities here in Kentucky is now being primarily used for things that are related to the pipeline, then we're going to see an increase in price and cost to transport those goods. And so, I'm fixated and concerned about that. I know I've talked with our Ag Commissioner, Ryan Quarles, about that here as well. And so, the agenda that is coming out of this administration is very concerning.

Obviously, as it relates to the COVID-19, the newest round of COVID-19 money that's coming to the states, to put a condition on it from the Treasury Department that basically says that if your state is in any way contemplating any sort of changes in the tax policies of that state, that we might have the ability to recoup the dollars that we're sending you through the COVID-19 program, is again…is a heavy-handed approach to governing, and it is a rebuke of federalism….Along with General Slatery in Tennessee, we filed suit…We've got a bill that was passed by the General Assembly and was ultimately signed by the governor, that is going to provide some tax incentives, if you will, to some minority areas in Kentucky.

My concern is that potentially, because of what has come out of Treasury and has come through this deal, that, because money is fungible….if Treasury decides that somehow the money that they gave us has been used for a tax incentive, all of a sudden they start taking money back, and that hurts those minority communities. That's concerning to me, and it's concerning in the sense that you have, again, a heavy-handed approach from Washington, D.C., that is trying to circumvent and in a backhanded way tell states that have low tax rates, that have low tax policies, that somehow we're going to penalize you for that.

And so, we're going to fight for the tax-paying citizens of the commonwealth, and for the prerogative of our General Assembly, of our legislature, to make decisions about what those tax policies look like. There are a lot of different things that we're going to be working on. We recently got involved in a litigation that was started…or was being defended by the Trump administration as it relates to a rule that came out of the Department of Labor, that relates to not penalizing contractors that are espousing First Amendment principles and beliefs in terms of their contracting values. And so, if you have a Christian contractor, they should not be penalized for having Christian beliefs in contracting.

So, we have decided to intervene in a case and defend the Department of Labor rule that was started by the Trump administration, to defend those First Amendment principles that this administration has decided not to defend. So, there are a whole bevy of things that we're going to be doing in terms of federal overreach here in the commonwealth, so, I've had to make sure that that we're standing up for our citizens here in Kentucky.

Washington Examiner: So you're the first line of defense and the last line of defense?

Daniel Cameron: In many ways, that's exactly right. That's exactly right. Yes, ma'am.

Washington Examiner: Last question; future aspirations.

Daniel Cameron: Well, I hope to make it through this year. My wife and I are always talking about what's next, and I think we're very interested in having children and seeing how that impacts in a good way our lives, and what that ultimately looks like over the course of the next year. So, maybe you can come back and interview me next year.

Washington Examiner: Political aspirations?

Daniel Cameron: Hopefully we'll be here for the next few years, and we'll see what happens after that. There was a bill that was making its way through both chambers here, the House and the Senate. And somebody was referring to it … It was a bill related to how, in the event of an abrupt departure of one of our senators-

Washington Examiner: Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul they are both Republicans your governor is a Democrat.

Daniel Cameron: Yeah. And so, people were taking to calling it the “Daniel Cameron Bill.” And I had nothing to do with it at all. I didn't know anything about it, and so, people would always ask me that's the bill if, say, McConnell retired how the next senator was appointed.

Washington Examiner: The assumption is McConnell would have wanted you to be picked. It's become law now.

Daniel Cameron: Yes the law is that three people get sent to the governor and then the governor picks from there. The state party of the retiring senator picks the three people.

Washington Examiner: I can see why people would call that the Daniel Cameron Bill.

Daniel Cameron: Yes. But it was so funny, because I had nothing to do with it. And I had not even been following it as it was going through, till somebody called me about it. And I said, ‘What are they calling this?’ I never talked to the senator about it.

Washington Examiner: (Pointing to a photo of him and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell). Great photo, how often do you speak with him?

Daniel Cameron: That was taken on my last day working in his office. He is very, very smart. He has certainly been a longtime friend, and he's been invaluable for me and I'm grateful for that friendship. And he's always checking in on me and Makenze, and he's been really great to us.

Washington Examiner: You have been able to navigate a relationship with both former president Trump and McConnell, the press makes a lot of how they don’t get along.

Daniel Cameron: There are always differences in American politics, history shows that, what matters is what you are able to accomplish despite those differences.

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