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
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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Politics
5:43 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

State Lawmakers Point Out Speaker Stumbo's 'Evolving' Position on John Arnold Scandal

Greg Stumbo
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky lawmakers from both parties are questioning the timing of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo's decision to begin a process that may lead to the possible censure or removal Rep. John Arnold over sexual harassment allegations.

And Republicans argue Stumbo's decision contradicts earlier statements from the speaker's office that lawmakers shouldn't interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Earlier this week, Stumbo said he disagreed with a call by Republican Senate President Robert Stivers for General Assembly leaders to discuss the Legislative Research Commission's ongoing probe in a closed-door session.

When Stivers called for a Sept. 4 meeting between Senate and House leaders, he said it was to learn more about the status of an LRC probe being led by attorney Cheryl Lewis, who was hired by Stumbo's office.

But the speaker balked at that request Wednesday evening.

And on Thursday afternoon, Stumbo announced the petition and an appointment of a special committee to look into the allegations, which could potentially remove Arnold from office.

"This position is inconsistent but that has been his course of conduct over the last 10 days," says Stivers. "While I applaud the speaker for seeking proportional punishment for the alleged acts, that does not resolve the problem of the legislature’s exposure to threatened litigation and money judgments. It also does not resolve the most significant problem which is how to address the culture that has been exposed by the actions of Rep. Arnold."

(Past coverage of the Arnold ethics case from WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.)

Part of this week's dueling statements between Stivers and Stumbo is a bit of political gamesmanship and difference in opinion on how to handle the scandal, which surprised lawmakers in the midst of the special legislative session.

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Politics
3:35 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Stumbo Calls for Investigation of Rep. John Arnold, Could Lead to Censure or Expulsion

Greg Stumbo
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has filed a petition that would allow the House to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against Democratic Representative John Arnold, D-Sturgis.

State lawmakers could then vote to censure or expel the Western Kentucky lawmaker.

In addition to the petition, the House Committee on Committees is sending Arnold a letter saying that he will be suspended as chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance and Public Protection.

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Politics
10:00 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Louisville Tea Party President Endorses Matt Bevin Over Mitch McConnell

Matt Bevin
Credit foxnews.com

Saying she is proud to have been attacked by Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign, Louisville Tea Party President Wendy Caswell is endorsing Republican Matt Bevin in Kentucky's U.S. Senate primary race.

The nod from Caswell is a key pickup for the Bevin campaign that comes weeks after two prominent tea party activists in Louisville backed McConnell in next year's GOP primary.

In a Courier-Journal op-ed, Caswell says McConnell is more concerned with increasing his own political power than conservative principles.

"Sen. Mitch McConnell represents the old guard in Washington D.C. that cares more about holding on to power than defending the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom. Those are the principles that Matt Bevin believes in. I know he believes in those fundamental conservative ideals because he has embodied them in his life's experiences," she says.

The endorsement from Caswell was likely helped by a web video attacking the activist.

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Politics
8:33 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Senate President Pushes Kentucky Legislative Leaders to Meet on John Arnold Investigation

Senate President Robert Stivers (l) and House Speaker Greg Stumbo (r)
Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, says House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonburg, is declining to meet with leaders in the General Assembly to discuss an investigation of sexual harassment claims made against Democratic state Rep. John Arnold by Statehouse staffers.

In two separate complaints, Legislative Research Commission employees Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner allege Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them over a period of three years.

A third female staffer, Gloria Morgan, has also come forward claiming Arnold touched her inappropriately in 2009. All three say their supervisors did not do enough to address the complaints. 

Stivers is calling for a closed door session on Sept. 4 with Senate and House leaders to learn more about the status of an investigation into the issue. Because this is a personnel matter, legislative leaders are required to meet in executive session, which requires three of the four highest-ranking lawmakers to be present.

Stivers says since Arnold's accusers have retained legal counsel, it is necessary for lawmakers to know what investigations have been conducted, and what actions may need to be taken.

"I spoke with [Senate Democratic] Leader [R.J.] Palmer and he agreed that we need to call the LRC into executive session on September 4. I have also spoken with [House Republican] Leader [Jeff] Hoover regarding this course of action and he’s in agreement," Stivers said in a statement to WFPL. "The speaker's office has declined to go into session to apprise us of what investigations are going on and who’s conducting them."

The split on the meeting demonstrates a difference in opinion between Stumbo and Stivers in how the complaints should be handled.

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Politics
4:56 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

McConnell Campaign to Launch "Women for Team Mitch" This Week

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Credit Joseph Lord/WFPL News

The campaign to re-elect Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is making its first pitch to women voters in an attempt to close the perceived gender gap.

This Friday the campaign will launch "Women for Team Mitch" where McConnell will be joined by his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, along with women from across Kentucky.

It is a sign that the GOP leader understands the need to reach out to women, which is a key voting bloc that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is courting.

National Democrats have pounded McConnell's record on women's issues, which includes voting against the re-authorization the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year.

But aides close to McConnell have said the senator isn't going to ignore the female vote, and is eager to defend his views.

From The New York Times:

Given recent struggles that Republican Senate contenders have had with women’s issues, Mr. McConnell’s advisers say they intend to confront head-on the criticism Democrats have already begun leveling against him on issues they view as particularly important to female voters.

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Politics
3:10 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Tea Partiers, Conservative Groups Target Mitch McConnell at Launch of Anti-Obamacare Tour

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at a tea party rally in Kentucky
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

A pair of conservative groups are kicking off their campaign to de-fund President Obama’s health care law in Kentucky to pressure Republican Senator Leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers.

For America and Tea Party Patriots visited the state on Tuesday to launch the "Exempt America Tour," which plans to visit the political doorsteps of five key GOP leaders in Congress including stops in Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and South Carolina.

The tour plans to draws attention to efforts to take out funding for Obamacare in the budget, which is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., and supported by a handful of other Republican senators.

It's a strategy that's divided the GOP, with leaders in Washington voicing caution while conservative activists—such as former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin—arguing "forced enrollment" is unconstitutional.

"People in Kentucky and Senator McConnell know that we don't think Americans should have to pay for Obamacare. That’s why we’re in Kentucky," says For America campaign manager Scott Hogenson. "And we're starting in Kentucy because as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, we think he’s the first person we want to talk to."

Critics of this strategy say the Tea Party and others are playing into the Obama administration and Senate Democrat's hands. That pushing for a standoff to shut down the federal government will not work.

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Politics
11:52 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Matt Bevin Failed to Mention State He's Running for in Campaign Disclosure, Says FEC

A small mistake or an attack ad in the making?

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin failed to include he is seeking office in Kentucky in campaign disclosure forms, according to a letter from the The Federal Election Commission sent Monday.

Bevin is running in the GOP primary election next year to unseat incumbent Mitch McConnell.

FEC Letter to Bevin

Given the increasingly bitter tone of the campaign and opposition research against Bevin thus far, it's likely this tiny piece of paperwork could find its way in a McConnell attack ad.

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Politics
10:01 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Listen: Conservative Group Says Mitch McConnell 'Refuses to Lead Fight' on Defunding Obamacare

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,
Credit File photo

Another conservative group is launching a radio ad criticizing Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, this time calling on the GOP leader to oppose all funding for Obamacare even in the face of a government shutdown.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is spending close to $50,000 for this statewide ad that will begin airing Tuesday.

In a 60-second spot, the group says Obamacare is unaffordable and unfair but that McConnell hasn't forcefully backed efforts to de-fund the law.

Besides the president's health care law the ad also takes a jab at a controversy involving McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton who was recorded saying he was "holding my nose" working for the senator.

"The Obamacare bill stinks, and holding your nose won't make it any better," the narrator says.

Listen:

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Politics
7:46 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Democrat Vitalis Lanshima Announces Candidacy for Jefferson County Clerk

Democratic Jefferson County Clerk candidate Vitalis Lanshima

A local educator and former paralympian is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge longtime Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw in next year’s election.

Vitalis Lanshima was born in Nigeria and emigrated to the U.S. in 2002 as a student-athlete at Bellarmine University.

He announced his intentions to run Monday, and is the first declared challenger in the clerk’s race against Holsclaw, who is a Republican.

Lanshima says the county needs a clerk who will be more vocal on voting rights and other civic issues.

"The county clerk is supposed to be the chief civic advocate for this community. And we have issues that have to deal with voter disenfranchisement," he says.

Those include opposing any voter photo ID legislation and automatically restoring felon voting rights. which Lanshima says is a part of his platform along with modernizing the clerk's office.

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