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
3:00 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

National Democrats Dub Mitch McConnell 'Senator Gridlock' Amid Filibuster Fight

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

National Democrats are calling Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky "Senator Gridlock" as the Senate considers altering its filibuster rules.

For most of this week, McConnell has been in a sometimes heated exchange with Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada over blocking President Obama's executive nominees.

Democrats are threatening to use so-called 'nuclear option' to break the gridlock, and McConnell has said that will make Reid the worst Senate leader in history if they do so.

"They’re not interested in checks and balances. They’re not interested in advice and consent. They’re not even interested in what this would mean down the road when Republicans are the ones making the nominations," McConnell said earlier this week. "They want the power. They want it now. And they don’t care about the consequences.

Since 2007, Senate statistics show McConnell has used the filibuster 413 times as minority leader. That is almost twice as much as when Democrats held the minority from 1995 to 2001. Update: Since 2007, the Senate has invoked cloture, which requires 60 votes, 413 times. This is not the same as McConnell using the filibuster. 

Democratic Senator Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky says McConnell has led an unprecedented tenure of blocking Senate procedures.

"Mitch McConnell should change his name to Senator Gridlock because he’s the walking, talking embodiment of everything that’s wrong with Washington. And he’s the number one reason for record-breaking levels of obstruction and dysfunction," he says. "Senator McConnell has not only made things worse, but he’s actually embraced his role as the number one problem."

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Politics
8:55 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Defends 'Southern Avenger' Aide

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

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is standing by an aide who was criticized for his past affiliation with a neo-Confederate group, saying 39-year-old Jack Hunter is an "incredibly talented" part of his staff.

For most of this week Hunter has been under intense scrutiny for once belong to the League of the South, which advocated for secession.

He also worked as a radio shock jock dubbed the "Southern Avenger," who worse a Confederate flag mask and bemoaned America's growing non-white majority.

Hunter has since said he has renounced most of his views, but several analysts and critics called on Paul to fire the aide in order to maintain credibility as a potential presidential candidate.

In an interview with Huffington Post, however, Paul rejected those suggestions saying he opposed Hunter's past views but that his aide has never treated anyone unfairly.

From The Huffington Post:

"People are calling him a white supremacist," Paul told me in his Senate office. “If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately. If I thought he would treat anybody on the color of their skin different than others, I’d fire him immediately."

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Politics
3:32 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Fort Knox Cuts Could Factor Into Kentucky Congressional Race

Credit Wikimedia Commons

U.S. defense cuts that will slash about half of Ft. Knox’s combat brigades could be a top issue in Kentucky’s Second Congressional District race.

Last month it was reported the base will lose 3,300 troops in the so-called Duke Brigade over the next six years, which public officials worry could result in the loss of 10,000 jobs in the process.

In reaction to the news, Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie, whose district includes Ft. Knox, blamed President Obama's defense plan for the cuts.

In a June 25 e-mail, however, Army officials said the reduction forces reflects funding cuts based on the Budget Control Act, which Guthrie voted for two years ago.

"Congressman Guthrie did vote for the Budget Control Act because he believes we must get our nation’s spending problem under control," says congressional spokeswoman Jennifer Sherman. "He has also voted several times to offset the military cuts and ensure our nation’s men and women in uniform have the tools they need to protect our country."

At the time, many lawmakers supported the Budget Control Act to get beyond an impasse between Democrats and Republican over the debt ceiling. But after the so-called Super Committee failed many of those cuts are coming to fruition.

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Politics
10:16 am
Thu July 11, 2013

McConnell Campaign Raises $2.2 Million in Second Quarter

Flexing its financial muscle the campaign to re-elect Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is reporting it raised $2.2 million in the second quarter.

The numbers haven't been reported with the Federal Election Commission, but campaign manager Jesse Benton confirmed the substantial amount with WFPL.

McConnell has now raised over $15 million in total and has close to $10 million on-hand as he seeks a sixth term in office.

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Politics
6:39 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

City Reaches Contract Deal with Police, Firefighters Union

Louisville Metro Government has reached a five-year deal with the city’s police and fire unions that provides raises while making significant changes to the overtime and health plan systems.

The contracts with the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Firefighters were recently ratified by their membership, and both contracts will be presented to the Metro Council next week for consideration.

Mayor Greg Fischer says the new labor agreement helps the city align projected revenues with rising costs.

"I applaud both sides for taking a fair and affordable approach to these contracts," he says. "Our employees are among the best in class and we are on a constant journey of improvement. These new contracts take a big step toward matching revenue growth with personnel costs."

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Politics
2:30 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Kentucky Democrats Broil Mitch McConnell Over Rand Paul's 'Southern Avenger' Aide

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul at a Kentucky Tea Party rally
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

The chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party is calling on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to condemn an aide in Senator Rand Paul's office who was once a member a neo-Confederate group.

In a story the Washington Free Beacon reported Paul's social media director Jack Hunter, 39, belonged to a group that advocates southern secession.

It also found that up until Hunter was hired by Paul last year, he worked as a radio shock jock dubbed the "Southern Avenger" who praised Abraham Lincoln's assassination and said a non-white majority in the country would "simply cease to be America."

The aide's comments have put Paul's judgment for hiring him—and his potential 2016 presidential candidacy—under harsh scrutiny form critics. But state Democrats took the story as a chance to take quick swipe at Paul and link McConnell to his junior Kentucky colleague.

"The shameful history of Senator Rand Paul's senior staffer is embarrassing and I call on Senator Paul to condemn him immediately," says KDP Chairman Dan Logsdon. "Unfortunately, we're seeing more and more of this bizarre extremism, not just from Senator Paul, but also from Senator Mitch McConnell, as he caters to the radical fringe of his party."

The McConnell campaign says racism has no place in politics, but stopped short of denouncing Hunter and instead pivoted to criticize Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

"If Dan Logsdon would look up from the disaster that is Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign long enough to notice, he would see that Rand Paul has done more to reach out to African American and Hispanic communities in the past six months than Logsdon has done his entire career," says McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton. "We would hope everyone agrees that racism has no place in politics, which is why it was particularly disappointing that Secretary Grimes failed to condemn a liberal Super PAC’s racist tweets targeting Senator McConnell's wife."

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Politics
12:14 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Study: Immigration Reform Would Boost Kentucky Revenues By $23 Million

A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates Kentucky stands to gain $23.2 million in increased revenue should Congress pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The 50-state analysis assumes that a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country will be included in any legislative package.

That would add around 80,000 new Kentuckians who would fully participate in the state and local tax systems.

According to the study, those immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally are already paying $10.6 billion a year in state and local taxes nationwide, which is $58.8 million in Kentucky.

Supporters of immigration reform argue the added revenue demonstrates creating legal channels for the undocumented helps immigrant and native households, especially in poorer states.

"Some people would be surprised by how much undocumented immigrants already pay in taxes, including sales, property and income. But immigration reform would increase those contributions especially with income tax by creating a legal path for full compliance," says Anna Baumann, a research associate with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a non-partisan group that studies economic issues in the state.

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Politics
10:36 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Businesses Tied to Alison Lundergan Grimes Miss State Reporting Deadline

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Credit Creative Commons

A pair of Kentucky businesses linked to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes failed to file their annual reports required by her office.

Earlier this week, Grimes's office announced over 156,000 companies complied with the July 1 deadline, but about 41,000—including two run by her father—had not.

From The Lexington Herald-Leader:

Grimes organized both businesses and has an ownership interest in one of them, but her father, former state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, took the blame Tuesday for missing the filing deadline.

Lundergan is listed as the sole officer for both businesses — Glenncase and GCL Properties — in filings with the secretary of state's office. Glenncase, in which Grimes has an ownership interest, involves 11-plus acres on New Circle Road. GCL Properties owns the Carriage House on Limestone Street.

Grimes, a Democrat, is seeking to run against Republican Mitch McConnell for U.S. Senate next year and the GOP is pouncing on this latest story.

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Politics
6:43 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Louisville Businessman Matthew Barzun Selected as U.S. Ambassador to Britain

Matthew Barzun
Credit U.S. State Department

President Obama has nominated Louisville entrepreneur Matthew Barzun to be the next U.S. ambassador to Britain.

A major fundraiser for the president, Barzun served as finance chairman for the Obama re-election campaign last fall.

The selection had been rumored since January, when the New York Times noted Barzun, a tech executive, was in the running for the coveted foreign relations position along with Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour.

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Politics
12:55 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Rand Paul Aide/Co-Author Once Belonged to Neo-Confederate Group

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

An aide to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., is under scrutiny after reports surfaced that he spent over a decade as a neo-Confederate activist who led a group that advocates for southern secession from the union.

And the news could damper Paul's attempts to court minorities ahead of his rumored 2016 presidential bid.

Jack Hunter currently serves as Paul's social media director and co-wrote the book 'The Tea Party Goes to Washington" with the senator in 2010.

A conservative news site reveals Hunter was a member and chapter leader of a group called the League of the South, which advocates the southern states separate from the U.S. to form their own republic.

Hunter also worked as a radio show host who used the alter ego "Southern Avenger," wearing a Confederate flag mask. As the character, Hunter would opine on a number of issues such as celebrating the death of Abraham Lincoln and speaking against Spanish-speaking immigration.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

(SNIP)

“The League of the South is an implicitly racist group in that the idealized version of the South that they promote is one which, to use their ideology, is dominated by ‘Anglo-Celtic’ culture, which is their code word for ‘white’,” said Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research at the ADL. The ADL said it does not necessarily classify it as a hate group.

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