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KY Senate candidate taking heat for comments at cockfighting rally

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(Source: Humane Society of the U.S.) (Source: Humane Society of the U.S.)
HENRY CO., KY (WFIE) -

It's part of Kentucky's landscape, even when it's not readily visible.
Here, hidden in a Henry County valley, behind the trees.

Sprawling farms, raising chickens. 
Not the kind you eat.
Separated by leg leashes, or they'll fight.

" If they break off their ropes or out of their pens they do kill each other, by nature's way, not nothing to do with us."

The man who owns Dink Fair Game Farm says there's nothing illegal going on here..

"I specialize in breeding only. What the other people do with em, like a gun salesman, I am not responsible."

What other people do with them - is the issue.
Cockfighting has been illegal for years in Kentucky, but police have looked the other way.
Literally.
This state trooper and sheriff's deputy caught on camera by undercover humane society investigators in 2010 at a Manchester Kentucky cockfighting event - doing nothing about it.

John Goodwin/HSUS Director
"What you have is an illegal cockfighting industry in Kentucky. Kentucky is kind of the capitol of it and drug in people form other states involved in that crime."

The Humane Society's Animal Cruelty Policy Director in February successfully lobbied lawmakers to make it a federal crime to attend a cockfight, and a felony to bring a child to one.

John Goodwin/HSUS
"This federal law, that was expanded to cover spectators at animal fights, is very same law used to prosecute Michael Vick. It is a very popular law."

Not to a lot of people around here. On March 29th, "activist cockfighters" are called to the Corbin Arena, for a "meeting" to "legalize cockfighting."

So I put on a 'legalize cockfighting' shirt and go in undercover.

The first speaker, American Gamefowl Defense Director Dave Devereaux, spends several minutes explaining why we're here.

Dave Devereaux/Gamefowl Defense Network
"..sole purpose of legalizing gamecock fighting at the state level.."

The next speaker, before more than 700 people, is Republican US Senate Candidate Matt Bevin.

Matt Bevin/U.S. Senate Candidate
"There is not a cause, there is not an issue, nothing we believe in that we could not bring to fruition if we turn out to vote"

When he's done, he's asked a direct question:

Devereaux
"Will you vote to support the effort to legalize gamecock fighting in the state of Kentucky?"

Bevin
"I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right, because it is our right to decide what it is that we want to do, and no the federal government's.
Criminalizing behavior, if it's part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea. A bad idea. I will not support it." (applause)

Bevin is followed by standing state representative Richard Henderson of Mt. Sterling, who supports legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky, and then makes a popular confession.

"I bet on chickens" (applause)
"I must admit I've been to more than a few chicken fights"
"I must admit I liked 'em"

Representative Henderson refused our request for an interview…. saying "the media misconstrues everything I say"
We caught up with Bevin at a Louisville campaign stop.
He says he didn't know it was a cockfighting rally.   


- I don't personally support cockfighting, never been to a cockfight in my life. if you were there, you can tell, when I was speaking, were you there when I spoke?
-I was there the whole time.
-I spoke, I was there to speak about why I'm running for US Senate. That's the same thing I do everywhere I speak.
-when Dave Devereaux got up before you, he said we're here for the sole purpose of talking about legalizing cockfighting in Kentucky. What were you thinking when he said that?
-I honestly wasn't even paying attention. Was thinking about what I was gonna say. I don't even remember him saying that.

I read him back this comment:

(replay portion of Bevin at rally "Criminalizing behavior, if it's part of the heritage of this state, is in my opinion a bad idea")


-You stand behind that?
-What I stand behind is people's ability to examine their first amendment rights to speak about whatever they want to speak about.

John Boel Reporting
Representative Henderson urged the crowd to appeal to lawmakers to modify the part of the bill that makes attending cockfights a felony.

A national fight that will play out first here in the Bluegrass State.

John Boel wave 3 news.

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