Politics

Politics
10:30 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Noise and Notes: Recaps and Leftovers from the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly

Credit Louisville Public Media

The 2013 Kentucky General Assembly is nearing its end, but there are plenty of important issues still haven't been addressed.

At the beginning of the legislative session much was said about the improved personal relationships between Gov. Steve Beshear and state lawmakers—particularly the GOP-controlled Senate. But if Frankfort is more collegial it hasn't improved productivity.

With two days left for veto days, thorny matters such as pension reform and redistricting haven’t been resolved. No deals are in sight, and there is talk of a special session to sort those priorities out.

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Politics
6:25 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll

Credit U.S. Senate

  Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, beating several high-profile names among his party's potential 2016 White House contenders.

Paul edged out GOP rival and fellow Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the largely symbolic survey among a crowded field of two dozen candidates. Those Paul bested include former Republican vice presidential nominees Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan. 

Kentucky's junior senator won with 25 percent of the vote, ahead of Rubio who had 23 percent and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania who came in was third place with 8 percent.

From USA Today:

Lauri Dabbieri, a high school teacher from Fairfax County, Va., said she voted for Paul when she heard the senator say he would abolish the federal Department of Education, which she called "completely useless.' Education is a local issue, she said.

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Politics
3:14 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Charges Dismissed in Mayor Greg Fischer Election Finance Case

Credit File photo

In the closing decision of the case against Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance has dismissed the last of the civil charges filed regarding Fischer's use of campaign funds.

The registry initially found that former Fischer Inaugural Committee Co-Chair Marty Cogan indirectly violated state campaign finance law by soliciting money to fund Fischer's inaugural party under a title for which he was not formally registered.

Despite the finding, KREF officials have dismissed
the charge, following the recommendation of general counsel.

Fischer and his associates were accused of using funds raised expressly for Fischer's inaugural party to pay down outstanding debts incurred during his mayoral campaign.

Under Kentucky campaign laws, funds raised for the purpose of inauguration cannot be used to pay off campaign debt.

"The charges had been brought and they really were without foundation," said Cogan's attorney, Donald Cox. "And if a full investigation had been done initially, the charges never would have been brought. But that's the nature of what goes on in these proceedings. And so we're just happy that we've been completely vindicated."

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Politics
8:25 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Council Members Laud Metro Police for Impounding Roofing Company Truck Over Illegal Dumping

Louisville Metro Council members are praising Metro Police for impounding a dump truck allegedly involved in illegal dumping in the Fairdale neighborhood.

According to council staff, police received a complaint on Wednesday of shingles and roofing materials being illegally dropped off on Manslick Road.

Officers arrived at the scene and found a truck belonging to Elkins & Sons of Louisville that was later impounded.

"I applaud the quick work of the officer who answered this call about illegal dumping," Councilwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, said in a news release. "I am also glad to see the public is getting involved in stopping people who believe they can use our streets, alleys, vacant fields and roadways as their own personal dumping ground."

Last year, city lawmakers strengthened an ordinance to empower law enforcement to seize vehicles caught illegally dumping.

The council also added funding to the budget for 19 new cameras targeting problem areas where there have been repeated cases of trash and other junk items being dropped off improperly

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Politics
7:03 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Calls for New GOP at CPAC

Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said the GOP has "grown stale and moss covered" and needs to embrace libertarianism.

"The new GOP will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we're going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP," he said.

For many conservatives, Paul's nearly 13-hour filibuster of CIA director John Brennan in protest of President Obama's drone policies puts him at the head of the line for presidential contenders in 2016.

The high-profiled speech gave Paul a chance to court the so-called "Facebook generation" on privacy matters, and explain why he favors limits on presidential power.

Paul's remarks also gave him a chance to rebuke GOP rival and fellow Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who right before Paul's speech said the party didn't need new ideas.

Watch the full speech:

Politics
4:04 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Lexington Reporter Pulled from Democratic Club Meeting After Call from Mitch McConnell's Office

Democratic sources are alleging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office pressured the Lexington Herald-Leader to stop a reporter from addressing a political club, but the newspaper's editor denies any such demands were made.

Journalist John Cheves was invited to speak before the Louisville Metropolitan Democratic Club this week to talk about an investigative series he wrote on Kentucky's senior Senator in 2006.

The event caught the attention of McConnell’s office after being promoted by Progress Kentucky, a liberal super PAC that was denounced by Democrats and Republicans over racially insensitive Tweets about the senator's wife.

A source tells WFPL McConnell’s office questioned the newspaper's "journalistic integrity" and requested Cheves not appear.

Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak says a McConnell spokesman did ask about the event, but no political pressure was applied.

"I gather they had seen something on social media mentioning the meeting and they just asked the simple question of whether it was accurate that John was the speaker. They didn’t make any demands of any kind," he says. "It was from that point the editors at the Herald-Leader did not know this meeting had been scheduled."

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Politics
12:55 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

As Session Nears Close, Kentucky Legislators Grapple with Smelter Issue

The smokestack of an aluminum smelting plant, 1973.
Credit Doug Wilson / Environmental Protection Agency

With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.

Under state law, the smelters are required to purchase electricity from the nearest company—Big Rivers Electric, in this case.  The smelters say lower aluminum prices have them struggling to pay the bills; they're asking for more options for where they get electricity.

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Politics
9:55 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth: Ryan Budget Plan is the Enemy of Growth

Speaking at the House Budget Committee this week, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth said government should be a partner with business and the Republican-crafted 2014 budget will hurt economic growth.

Among the highlights GOP lawmakers have touted are $6.4 trillion in deficit cuts and reducing the corporate tax by 10 percent.

But Yarmuth told his congressional colleagues on Wednesday the GOP proposal is an "enemy" to growth, adding cuts to education, infrastructure and child-care programs are not what business leaders in Louisville are asking for.

"They want Washington's help, not its avoidance," he says. "I think the Ryan-Republican budget is a dismal failure. All of the things that are businesses are crying out for the Ryan budget would emphasize or in fact dramatically reduce."

Watch:

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Politics
7:34 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Mitch McConnell Congratulates Pope Francis

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is praising the selection of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio to head the Catholic Church as the new pope.

From McConnell's office:

"Catholics across Kentucky and the entire U.S. celebrate the election of Pope Francis I, and I join Americans of all faiths to congratulate him on becoming the spiritual leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics.

As a voice of clarity and force on the great moral challenges of our time, the Pope plays a uniquely constructive role in world affairs, and as a herald of the Christian message of charity and reconciliation he calls all of us to a greater recognition of the inherent dignity of all men and women.

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Politics
4:19 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Special Prosecutor Named in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Public Integrity Case

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission will make a ruling on its case involving Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, this week while the criminal investigation against the embattled lawmaker is moving forward.

Shanklin is facing five charges of violating the city's code of ethics, including accusations that she misused taxpayer money in relation to an upholstery training program her office championed.

The commission has a range of options in the case, from declining any punishment to recommending Shanklin be booted from office.

It cannot bring criminal charges against the councilwoman, but a separate investigation conducted by the Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit could.

The police have finished their probe and forwarded the case to a special prosecutor, First Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Robert Schaefer.

Schaefer tells WFPL he hasn’t had a change to review the extensive caseload, including a large number of binders, an internal audit and hundreds of pages of documents, but his office is taking the case seriously.

"Obviously this case has attracted a lot of interest, and we take all the cases that we do seriously. So I’m not going to rush and put something out there before I’ve had a chance to go through it," he says.

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