Phillip M. Bailey

Political Editor

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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Politics
4:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Mitch McConnell Receives Endorsement from Key Louisville Tea Partier

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Credit File photo

Tea Party activist and Louisville Councilwoman Marilyn Parker is endorsing Republican Senator Mitch McConnell days after complimenting his primary opponent.

The nod gives McConnell a key tea party figure, but it comes as the senator faces growing criticism from his political right on Obamacare as a prominent conservative PAC is pledging to run ads against him.

When asked Wednesday whom she was supporting in the GOP contest between McConnell and businessman Matt Bevin, Parker told WFPL she was undecided but praised the latter for bringing up good questions by entering the race.

In a surprising reversal Friday morning, however, Parker says she wanted to make sure voters knew she is backing McConnell for re-election.

"I have always supported Senator McConnell for U.S. Senate," Parker said in a statement. "Today I am issuing a formal endorsement to clear up any doubt about my support for Senator McConnell's conservative record, his leadership role in Washington representing Kentucky and our national interests, and his institutional knowledge for getting the right policies implemented."

Bevin is being supported by the United Kentucky Tea Party, which represents over a dozen groups across the state.

But the endorsement from Parker—along with the former vice president of the Louisville Tea Party—is a crafty chess move that gives Team Mitch a bit of breathing room as more rank-and-file activists openly criticize his campaign.

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Politics
12:58 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Council Budget Committee Rejects Property Tax Increase in Contrast to JCPS Hike

In contrast to Jefferson County Public Schools, the Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee rejected any increase to local property taxes in a unanimous vote this week.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced last week that he planned to introduce an ordinance keeping real estate tax rates at the same level.

Under the ordinance, the property tax rate for home owners in the old city limits or Urban Services District will remain at 36.66 cents per $100 of assessed value. Those living in the unincorporated areas of Metro Louisville will remain at 12.55 cents per $100.

Council Democrats and Republicans praised the decision, and Council President Jim King, D-10, took the vote as an opportunity to contrast with the school board's decision to raise taxes.

"Our taxpayers deserve a break in light of the annual JCPS tax increases. We believe in letting economic activity and new jobs drive tax receipts—not higher rates," he says.

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Politics
8:59 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Republicans Propose 'Sweeping Changes' to Discretionary Funds

Louisville Metro Council Republicans unveil discretionary spending changes.
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

Calling past efforts to reform discretionary spending practices watered down, Louisville Metro Council Republicans unveiled a series of "sweeping changes" to neighborhood development funds.

The proposals come in the wake of Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's expulsion trial. Shanklin avoided removal over charges of alleged misconduct and unethical use of taxpayer money by just one vote.

Among the changes being touted by GOP members are for the majority of discretionary funds to be used on capital projects rather than towards non-profit groups.

Each council members receives $75,000 in Neighborhood Development Funds, $100,000 in Capital Infrastructure Funds and $30,000 for office expenses.

Republicans hold a nine-member minority on the council, but are seeking to cap the neighborhood accounts at $15,000 while allocating the rest for infrastructure needs.

Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, says past efforts to amend spending rules have been ineffective and too slow, adding that GOP lawmakers believe it’s important to act now in order to restore the public's trust.

"We decided after what happened over these past two weeks to go ahead and make this more permanent, more accountable and more transparent," he says. "We want to have the strongest confidence that the public has in us as well as making sure that we elevate and solidify the trust has in using taxpayer’s money."

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Politics
1:21 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Calls on President Obama to End Foreign Aid to Egypt Amid Growing Violence

Citing the expanding chaos in Egypt, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says President Obama isn't going far enough in the U.S. response to reports that hundreds have died amid violent protests.

The president rebuked the country's military leaders for its crackdown on demonstrators. In a brief press conference, Obama announced the U.S. is cancelling a joint military exercise with Egypt next month.

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Politics
10:01 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Louisville Councilwoman, Tea Party Activist Says Matt Bevin Raising 'Good Questions'

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, R-18
Credit Parker campaign

Tea Party activist and Louisville Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker says businessman Matt Bevin’s entry in the Kentucky U.S. Senate primary against incumbent Mitch McConnell is good for Republicans in the state.

Parker hasn't endorsed either candidate and remains undecided on whom she’ll vote for in the primary contest.

But the city lawmaker believes the Bevin campaign is putting federal accountability and small government at the forefront of the 2014 campaign.

"Matt Bevin is raising a lot of good questions and he’s very articulate, and I think people will take note of him," she says. "And he’s going to bring issues that really the voters need to take a look at."

Earlier this year Parker had urged other Tea Party activists to reconsider a possible challenge to McConnell because of his leadership position in Washington. Attending the opening of the McConnell campaign headquarters, Parker told WFPL it was important not to jeopardize the senator's seat.

But that was before Bevin entered the race with the endorsement of more than a dozen Tea Party groups in Kentucky as well as support from outside conservative groups.

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Politics
3:47 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Rand Paul Says No Evidence of Racial Discrimination in Elections

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking at the Louisville Forum this week, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says there is no evidence that African-Americans are being barred from U.S. elections more than whites.

The comments come as several civil rights leaders announce they are launching a 50-state project aimed at reviving a historic law after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of it this year.

Many proponents argue a recent voter ID law in North Carolina is an example of legislation that wouldn’t have passed if the full Voting Rights Act was intact. Both the ACLU and NAACP have filed a pair of lawsuits alleging the state law is aimed at suppressing minority voters in upcoming elections.

Paul says there was once a time for the Voting Rights Act and there is still justification for the federal government to intervene if an individual's civil rights are violated.

But Kentucky's junior senator says any new provisions shouldn’t focus on southern states based on past cases of discrimination.

"The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government," he says. "So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."

In 2012, census figures showed black voter turnout was around 66 percent compared 64 percent among whites.

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Politics
11:02 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Louisville Tea Party President Warns McConnell Attack Ad Could Benefit Bevin

Senator Mitch McConnell at a Tea Party rally in Frankfort, Ky.
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

The president of the Louisville Tea Party says local members could endorse Senate Republican candidate Matt Bevin over incumbent Mitch McConnell in the GOP primary after she was featured in an online attack ad.

A web ad released by the McConnell campaign this week questioned Bevin's conservative credentials and affiliation with the Tea Party.

The online spot also points out Bevin has donated to Democrats, namely $500 to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in his 2010 primary battle. It shows he gave another $250 to Wendy Caswell, who is a registered Democrat but also a founder and current president of the Tea Party in Louisville.

Caswell ran for state House last year. She says the spot is misleading because she ran as a fiscal conservative with no Republican in the race, adding McConnell is alienating local Tea Party members.

"I don't know how you can make an ad that in the beginning says Bevin has never supported the Tea Party and then in the next instance show my face and I'm the president of the Tea Party. That's pretty contradictory," she says. "I was really surprised, but this certainly isn’t the way to get the Tea Party involved or excited about your election."

Thus far the Tea Party movement in the state has been decidedly behind Bevin, with a group of over a dozen groups under the United Kentucky Tea Party backing him over McConnell.

But the GOP leader retains the support of fellow Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and was endorsed by the former vice president of the Louisville Tea Party last month.

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Politics
1:42 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Controversial Liberal Super PAC Progress Kentucky Shuts Down

Credit progresskentucky.com

The controversy-plagued super PAC Progress Kentucky is no more.

The Federal Election Commission has posted the termination letter acknowledging that Progress Kentucky founder and treasurer Shawn Reilly sought to close the PAC.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Senate Candidate Sues Kentucky Democratic Party Over E-mail Supporting Alison Lundergan Grimes

Owensboro Democrat Ed Marksberry
Credit Hillbillyreport.org

Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marskberry is suing the Kentucky Democratic Party for allegedly violating its own by-laws and favoring Alison Lundergan Grimes's candidacy.

When Grimes announced earlier this month she was seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Mitch McConnell the state party quickly sought donations.

In a July 1 e-mail the KDP asked donors to help them build a grassroots effort to defeat McConnell and to "make sure Alison wins." The party's bylaws specifically forbid party officials from endorsing in a primary, however.

Marksberry told WFPL earlier this month he was considering a lawsuit.

But in an interview with The Washington Post, the Owensboro contractor confirmed he filed a suit in Franklin County Circuit Court on Monday.

"If I don’t get some respect, I’m going to pull out and run as an independent," Marksberry says. "They’ve picked on the wrong guy here."

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Politics
8:30 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Democrat John Yarmuth Condemns GOP Congressman Calling Young Immigrants Drug Smugglers

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth is condemning comments by Republican Steve King, who said the majority of undocumented immigrants's children are drug runners.

But Kentucky's Third District representative says those remarks don't reflect the views of most GOP lawmakers and shouldn't impede bipartisan efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

Almost two weeks ago King told Newsmax that for every immigrant child who is a valedictorian there are 100 hauling illegal drugs across the U.S.-Mexicon border.

The Iowa congressman hasn't backpedaled either, adding that many who are smuggling narcotics fit the qualifications under DREAM Act as defined in the Senate immigration reform bill.

"I’d love to see him resign," says Yarmuth. "If he would take my suggestion I’d say resign. What he said was clearly way out of bounds and in horrible taste, and just reprehensibly ignorant."

Yarmuth is a member of the so-called Gang of 7 working on a comprehensive measure in the House. He says most Republican don't take King seriously, and reject his views.

House Speaker John Boehner did rebuke King's comments, calling them "wrong" and "hateful." And other conservatives in the GOP-controlled House such as Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho said they were "irresponsible and reprehensible."

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