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
6:45 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

GOP Group Rebukes Matt Bevin for Defending Alison Lundergan Grimes Against 'Empty Dress' Remark

Mitch McConnell (l) is being challenged by Matt Bevin (r) in the Republican primary.
Credit File photos

Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin is being rebuked by a national Republican group for defending Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes against a GOP spokesman who referred to her as an "empty dress" this week.

The comments were made by National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring about Grimes in an -email to a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper.

Since then, state and national Democrats have pounced on the comment as a "sexist smear" while attempting to tie them to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

In an interview with The Courier-Journal's James Carroll, Bevin, who is running against McConnell in the GOP primary, followed suit. Saying he is married with six children, Bevin said calling Grimes an "empty dress" remarks was "insulting" and "beneath the dignity of a United States senator."

That drew a sharp criticism from NRSC spokeswoman Brook Hougesen.

"It's frankly embarrassing—and as a woman it’s offensive—that someone proclaiming to be conservative would lend credence to the Barack Obama gender war playbook that aims to smear good and decent Republicans," Hougeson told WFPL in a statement.

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Politics
4:56 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Senate Conservatives Fund Ad Says Mitch McConnell is 'Doing Nothing' to Stop Obamacare

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Credit Kentucky Public Radio

Saying Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is doing nothing to stop President Obama's health care law, a conservative group is making a hefty ad buy pressuring the GOP lawmaker to de-fund Obamacare.

Senate Conservatives Fund is reportedly spending $340,000 on a new TV ad that criticizes McConnell's leadership.

"McConnell is the Senate Republican leader, but he refuses to lead on defunding Obamcare. What good is a leader like that? It's nice that McConnell voted against Obamacare, but we need real leadership to stop it now," the ad says.

The new spot will begin airing Friday.

Watch:

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Politics
11:40 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton Supports Military Action Against Syria

Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton

Former Congressman Lee Hamilton says he hopes U.S. lawmakers act responsibly and give President Obama authorization to launch military strikes against Syria.

The president's request to strike Syria has divided Democrats with many—such as Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky—saying they are unconvinced by the administration's argument thus far.

Considered a foreign policy expert, Hamilton is a Democrat who represented Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District for 35 years. He is scheduled to speak about the wide-ranging foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. at a speech Thursday evening at Bellarmine University set for 7 p.m.

In an interview with WFPL News, Hamilton says Congress has been too deferential to U.S. presidents on foreign affairs in the past, but he would back the president's efforts in Syria.

"I would vote for the resolution. You have three options: first of all, do nothing. I think that’s not acceptable. That would mean in effect that (Balshar) al-Assad can with impunity attack his own people with chemical weapons," he says.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Senator Rand Paul: President Obama Failed to Make Case Against Syria

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky
Credit U.S. Senate

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says President Obama has failed to make a compelling case for the U.S. to launch a military strike against Syria.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 to give the president authority to do just that, with three Republican senators joining Democrats to support the resolution.

Paul voted against the resolution along with four Republicans and Democrats Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The resolution is now headed to the full Senate for a vote next week.

Paul says he isn't convinced a limited bombing of Syria will detour its government from using chemical weapons again, and he warns it could escalate violence in the region.

From Paul's office:

"We are told there is no military solution in Syria, yet we are embarking on a military solution. The president has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war.

To be sure, there is a tragedy of a horrific nature in Syria, but I am unconvinced that a limited Syrian bombing campaign will achieve its intended goals. I frankly think that bombing Syria increases the likelihood of additional gas attacks, may increase attacks on Israel and turkey, may increase civilian deaths, may increase instability in the Middle East and may draw Russia and Iran further into this civil war.

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Politics
5:01 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Report: One in Six Kentucky Households Cannot Afford Healthy Food

Credit File photo

One in six Kentucky households report having serious problems affording nutritious food, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report released on Wednesday also reveals basic hunger needs in the state have increased over the past decade even as lawmakers in Washington are proposing to dump millions of food stamp recipients.

Of the approximately 285,000 Kentucky households experiencing food insecurity, about 113,000 had at least one or more members living in the home forced to reduce their food intake. The agriculture department's report shows 15.6 percent lack adequate food choices, a five percent increase since 2003.

Many argue government help such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program combat those hunger issues. But food stamps face a possible $40 billion worth of cuts in Congress, which could eliminate benefits for up to 6 million Americans.

Jason Bailey is director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. He says the cuts are coming at a time when many families are still struggling economically.

"It’s not like they’re also proposing to create 4 to 6 million jobs that these folks can get to provide enough income for them to pay for their food needs. It’s an incredibly cruel and counter-productive proposal at a time when unemployment is still high," he says.

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Politics
5:12 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Unconvinced by Obama Administration's Argument to Attack Syria

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

The Obama administration's case to take military action against Syria after its government allegedly used chemical weapons against civilians has yet to convince Kentucky's lone Democratic congressman to support intervention.

Speaking on a WFPL News special, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says the country's international reputation is not enough to launch a strike.

President Obama is seeking congressional authorization before launching strikes against Balshar al-Assad's regime, which is engaged in a two-year long civil war with rebel forces.

The Obama administration is making its case to lawmakers beginning with a presentation before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

Over 100 lawmakers attended a confidential briefing with national security experts on Sunday.

Yarmuth was among those lawmakers, and while he believes in the evidence presented by the administration showing the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians, the congressman isn’t convinced the U.S. should get involved.

"The general public probably considers national security interest any direct threat to the United States homeland, embassies, troops or property. The administration has a much vaguer I would say definition of national security interest, and they’re talking about the security of our allies and certain esoteric interests that I don’t think most Americans would agree is our national security interest," says Yarmuth.

Yarmuth says he is also concerned because the U.S. is acting alone without many allies who are willing to join the fight against Syria.

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Politics
1:19 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Rand Paul Calls U.S. Involvement in Syria a 'Mistake,' Questions John Kerry's Assertions

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

Saying it's a mistake for the U.S. to get involved in the Syrian civil war, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., challenged Secretary of State John Kerry's assertion that a military air strike is necessary.

Paul made the comments during his first ever appearance on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday morning.

Speaking to host David Gregory, Paul reversed a famous quote by Kerry when as a war veteran and anti-war activists he asked lawmakers in 1971 who should be the last solider to die in Vietnam.

"He's famous for saying, 'How can you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?'' Paul said. "I would ask John Kerry: How can you ask a man to be the first one to die for a mistake?'"

Watch:

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Politics
4:40 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers React to President Obama Seeking Military Action Against Syria

President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval for air strikes against Syria
Credit White House

Most Kentucky federal lawmakers are praising President Obama's decision to seek congressional authorization before taking military action against Syria, which the administration says has used chemical weapons against civilians and rebel forces.

Obama says the administration has intelligence that the Syrian regime claimed the lives of 1,429 people with chemical attacks, and that a limited and tailored air strike is necessary.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Obama said he reached out to leaders in Congress including Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who had requested a conference call with the White House to brief senators on Saturday.

From McConnell's office:

"Today the President advised me that he will seek an authorization for the use of force from the Congress prior to initiating any combat operations against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. The President’s role as commander-in-chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress."

Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who is often a supporter of the president's agenda, urged the Obama administration to outline its case for bombing Syria, and advised they seek approval from lawmakers.

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Politics
4:17 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

House Speaker Stumbo Appoints Investigative Panel to Examine Harassment Claims Against John Arnold

Credit File photo

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has appointed a panel of five legislators who will investigate allegations of sexual harassment against state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, which could result in the embattled lawmaker's removal from office.

The speaker said on Thursday that the accusations against Arnold made by two longtime female staffers has become a distraction in the House, and needs to be resolved.

The committee will be made up of three Democrats and two Republicans, including two women. It will submit a final report to the 100-member House during the legislative session in January.

The investigative committee:

  • Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington
  • Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond
  • Rep. Jeff Donohue, D-Louisville
  • Rep. Julie Adams, R-Louisville
  • Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington

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Politics
1:56 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Reaching Out to Women Voters, Mitch McConnell Says Democrats Dividing Kentuckians Along Gender Lines

Republican Senator Mitch Mconnell's campaign launches 'Women for Team Mitch'
Credit Phillip M. Bailey

Joined by dozens of women from across Kentucky, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign launched "Women for Team Mitch" to reach female voters and blunt Democratic criticisms.

And McConnell says that regardless of gender, Kentuckians should think about his potential to shape the agenda in Washington if he becomes majority leader next fall.

Those in attendance shared their personal and at times emotional stories about how the senator helped them with business, family and other problems.

Democrats were quick to point out that on the issues McConnell voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act and opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

McConnell says those type of attacks show national Democrats and would-be challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes want to divide Kentuckians along gender lines.

"What you’re going to see by my opponent obviously is the Barack Obama playbook to try to divide people with gender-based attacks. We’ve seen that all too often and some of it has started already. I expect you’ll see more of it over the coming campaign," he says.

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