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
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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Politics
7:00 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Madison Project PAC Endorses Matt Bevin for Senate

Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin
Credit mail.com

A national political action committee is backing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin over Senator Mitch McConnell in next year's Republican primary election, saying the incumbent has refused to use his leadership position to fight for conservatives.

Based in Washington, D.C., the Madison Project describes itself as a PAC that supports small-government and anti-abortion candidates across the country.

The group previously supported Missouri Republican Jim Talent during his successful 2002 senate bid, and raised close to $2 million for political candidates in last year's elections.

Bevin has already been endorsed by The United Kentucky Tea Party, a coalition of 14 different groups across the state. But this is a sign that Bevin is also getting national attention from organization's outside of the state.

Madison Project spokesman Daniel Horowtiz says the group is proud to endorse Bevin mainly because of his background as an entrepreneur. The group isn't sparring McConnell any criticism, however.

"After 28 years in the Senate and over 10 years in leadership, Senator Mitch McConnell has become the embodiment of stale moss-covered leadership. It's not just his votes for Democrat proposals, such open borders, bailouts, fiscal cliff tax hikes, debt limit increases, green energy stimulus, and funding for Obamacare, it is that fact that McConnell has refused to use his leadership role to fight for conservatives." he says.

Asked about the Madison Project's decisions to back Bevin, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton dismissed the group.

"Are they still around? I thought they were defunct," he says.

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Politics
3:05 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Kentucky Senate President Says Matt Bevin Wants Government to 'Explode' and 'Be Destroyed'

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky state Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says candidates like Mitch McConnell's Tea Party backed primary challenger would rather see the federal government explode and be destroyed than work towards a limited government approach.

The comments come as more GOP state office holders are voicing their support for McConnell over Louisville businessman Matt Bevin.

In public appearances and campaign messages, Bevin, who is endorsed by the United Kentucky Tea Party, has ripped McConnell for not being conservative enough.

Arguing Kentucky deserves better, the Bevin campaign points to McConnell's vote for the bank bailouts, Patriotic Act and debt limit increases as prime examples of him talking like a conservative in the state and caving to Democrats in Washington.

But Stivers says McConnell doesn't control all of what goes on in Washington and has to make difficult choices as leader of the 45-member GOP caucus in the Senate.

"And I think some people—mainly some like Mr. Bevin—would just see government explode and be destroyed and have no government at all," Stivers told WFPL in a telephone interview. "But I think Senator McConnell tries to strike a balance of a necessary evil of having some government and not too much."

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Politics
10:05 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Councilwoman Shanklin's Defense Attorney Grills City Officials Over Upholstery Program Details

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Government

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin’s defense attorney forced city officials to concede key points about an upholstery program at the center  her removal trial.

Shanklin is accused of misusing taxpayer dollars to benefit herself and her relatives through classes promoted towards ex-offenders, which records show she attended over a dozen times.

Attorney David Tachau is prosecuting the case and has called the upholstery courses a "phony" that Shanklin and her family members used for their own benefit rather than district residents.

Corrections Director Mark Bolton, who had described the program as "goofy," told juror halting it in November 2011 was a "no-brainer" given the lack of former inmates involved. But during cross-examination Shanklin's defense attorney Aubrey Williams rattled Bolton, who admitted the department's agreement with the course instructor didn't limit participation to ex-offenders.

Williams says the contract was vague and Bolton’s department was sloppy in that it established few rules, which shows the issues with the program were the city's fault and not Shanklin.

He also got Bolton to admit that the corrections director continued to sign-off on the program's pay invoices for three years despite knowing ex-offenders weren’t involved.

"Please explain why if you had determined that these funds were not being used for their intended purpose would you approve their payments," Williams asked.

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Politics
8:00 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Calls for More Accountablity at NSA

Despite objections from the Obama administration, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth joined a bipartisan effort to limit the Nation Security Agency's ability to gather Americans telephone records.

The House ultimately rejected the amendment co-sponsored by Republican Justin Amash and Democrat John Conyers in a 205-217 vote, but this could be just the beginning of legislative attempts to curtail the intelligence agency.

Since agency contract employee Edward Snowden leaked details of a massive data collection program, the NSA has been criticized by libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberals for some time.

Appearing on MSNBC, Yarmuth says he isn't pleased with how the information came to light, but says there is considerable concern among lawmakers regarding privacy rights.

Watch:

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Politics
1:24 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Alison Lundergan Grimes Calls Mitch McConnell's Leadership Spiteful, Petty in Kick-Off Ad

Alison Lundergan Grimes

Speaking directly to Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says she plans to hold the GOP accountable in next year's election.

In a nearly four minute kick-off ad, Grimes says she doesn't always agree with President Obama, but that McConnell is blocking legislation that would've helped Kentuckians out of spite.

"Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand. Well I'm right here in Kentucky senator, where I'll be holding you accountable," says Grimes to McConnell.

"We'll have this debate senator, and as you've probably already seen, I don't scare easy."

The video also uses a clip from her successful secretary of state bid in 2011, which was praised by observers for its humorous tone and featured Grimes's two grandmothers.

Grimes's paternal grandmother, Thelma, died a few months after the ad first appeared and the Democratic challenger cites her as one of the chief reasons for running.

"Grandmother knew that if you wanted to get something done, you don’t stand in the way," says Grimes. "You stand by your principles, but you also figure out where you can agree and how we can come together. But that's not happening in Washington today, and Senator McConnell is the biggest part of the problem."

Watch:

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Politics
12:01 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

State GOP Lawmaker Compares Matt Bevin Candidacy to 'Don Quixote' Fantasy

State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, is backing McConnell over Bevin
Credit File photo

The entry of Louisville businessman Matt Bevin into the U.S. Senate race has Kentucky Republicans discussing who is the more conservative between the investor and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But one state GOP lawmaker is urging the party to remain loyal to McConnell for standing up to President Obama's agenda.

A coalition of Tea Party groups in the state are backing Bevin’s candidacy and outside groups have indicated they’re willing to do so as well.

The primary challenge to McConnell has gained national attention for an already high-profiled race.

McConnell's campaign have referred to Bevin as a "nuisance" and "con man" in the past week, and are pressuring Kentucky TV stations to take down the challenger's first ad for alleged federal election violations.

Observers say this is unchartered territory politically, but the early defense amongst McConnell's supporters is he remains the person who can best advocate for conservative values in Washington.

State Senator Damon Thayer is majority floor whip who represents parts of northern Kentucky, which is heavily Republican. He says McConnell is a conservative leader despite Tea Party criticisms, adding this primary contest won't split the GOP.

"I know what it's like to have a Tea Party primary. I had one last year, and I got 63 percent of the vote. And that's because a lot of Tea Party folks stuck with me because of my conservative values. And I think there will be a large number of Tea Party folks joining with mainstream Republicans to give Mitch a big victory in the primary," he says. "I’ve met Matt a couple times, he’s obviously successful and a nice guy. But he’s a rookie engaging in a Don Quixote-like episode of jousting at windmills that ultimately will prove unsuccessful for him."

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Politics
6:53 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

VIDEO: Matt Bevin Discusses Tax Delinquency Allegation, Tea Party Support and Rand Paul

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin further addressed attack ads by incumbent Mitch McConnell's re-election along with a few other issues in the early primary campaign.

The McConnell campaign is pummeling Bevin's candidacy by spotlighting how his Connecticut-based bell-making company received a bailout  and allegations the business failed to pay its taxes.

Watch:

Bevin Brothers Manufacturing did receive a $100,000 state grant in the form of a forgivable loan after it was destroyed in a fire last year. But the GOP challenger says the money went to buying needed machinery and represents less than 10 percent of the money being put in to rebuild the company.

Bevin says East Hampton residents lobbied to preserve the company—the last bell manufacturer in the country—and to keep American workers employed.

"If anyone should know a bailout it should be Mitch McConnell," he says. "If you compare that to the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of our dollars that have been wasted at the hands of career politicians like Mitch McConnell. If he thinks this is a bailout it's an indication of the fact that he literally has no idea how the private sector works, which isn't a surprise since he's never served a day in his life in that sector.

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Politics
2:24 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Republican Senate Candidate Matt Bevin Touts Conservative Beliefs, Differences with Mitch McConnell

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin

Saying it is time to take the country back from "elite, professional" politicians, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin officially announced he is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to overthrow incumbent Mitch McConnell.

Bevin is a 46-year-old investment executive and military veteran who owns a bell making company in Connecticut. He has never run for public office before, but Bevin did contribute to Sen. Rand Paul's Senate campaign in 2009.

For months, Bevin has been meeting with Tea Party groups in the state leading up to this primary bid.

The United Kentucky Tea Party endorsed Bevin immediately, saying his private sector experience makes him an entrepreneur with the knowledge to "balance a budget."

And for most of the speech, Bevin outlined his conservative vision for the country, advocating for less  government spending, lower taxes and a full repeal of President Obama's health care law.

"I’m asking you to join me in a pledge. A pledge our Founding Father took very, very seriously. A pledge to devote our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to take back our country from the elite, professional (and) career politicians who are destroying the very fabric of our country," he says.

Bevin says entering the GOP primary isn't about McConnell personally, but in a TV ad launched Wednesday makes it clear the Bevin campaign plans to tap into conservative frustration with the five-term senator.

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Politics
3:56 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Ran 'Phony' Program, Says Prosecutor

Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The prosecuting attorney in Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's removal trial says the Democratic lawmaker ran a "phony" ex-offenders program that served no public purpose other than to intentionally and persistently deceive the city.

But Shanklin's defense lawyer argues the councilwoman did nothing wrong and the prosecution's key witness is the one under criminal suspicion of taking public funds.

Shanklin faces two charges that she deliberately violated the city’s code of ethics.

The councilwoman is accused misusing public funds for an upholstery program meant for former inmates that mostly she and her relatives attended, and improperly controlling grants awarded to the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association.

At the heart of both opening statements were allegations made by upholstery instructor Linda Haywood, who told investigators Shanklin would often pay her in advance using the group's account. However, Haywood said she would reimburse the councilwoman in cash.

Attorney David Tachau is representing the charging committee. He says financial records show Haywood was paid by both Metro Corrections and the neighborhood group for teaching the same classes, but that the taxpayers were never reimbursed

"We know that Linda Haywood was paid twice $2,300 in a program Barbara Shanklin said was her program and that Haywood said she paid her back," he says. "Either Linda Haywood is not telling the truth, and she kept the money, which means that Barbara Shanklin allowed a government vendor to double dip from taxpayer funds in the program she was overseeing. Or Linda Haywood is telling the truth, and Barbara Shanklin pocketed more than $2,300."

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