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
10:30 pm
Sat April 20, 2013

Noise and Notes: Anthony Smith's Vision for Safer Louisville Neighborhoods

Safe Neighborhoods Director Anthony Smith

What makes a Louisville neighborhood safe?

Community activist Anthony Smith hopes to answer that in his new Metro government role aimed at crime prevention.

The city's director of Safe Neighborhoods was created as a result of the violence prevention task force, which submitted a report containing over six dozen recommendations in response to a brazen triple homicide last year.

Since that shooting spree onlookers have awaited to see if the work group's plan will be more than just another study.

Smith is a Louisville native who acknowledges residents are impatient when it comes to previous promises to help improve dangerous areas.

"There's always going to be this idea around are we doing enough as a city and are we moving fast enough," he says. "And I think we've got to understand this is a long-term situation—we didn't get here overnight so it's not something you can just put some programs in place and it's all gone."

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Politics
10:00 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Mitch McConnell Ad Spotlights FBI Probe, al-Qaeda Comparison

Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

The campaign to re-elect Republican Senator Mitch McConnell launched a new TV ad Thursday, which continues to pummel liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky and other groups for their attacks.

Asking "how dirty" will Democrats get, the narrator says McConnell is President Obama's number one target while highlighting the FBI investigation into a secret recording of a McConnell campaign strategy meeting.  WFPL broke the story that a local Democratic official alleged two activists involved with Progress were behind the recording.

The ad also digs at Americans United for Change, which launched a commercial which said McConnell's position against gun background checks put him in agreement with the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

"The far left is desperate to hurt Senator McConnell and have resorted to some of the dirtiest tactics in memory," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a release. "Whether it be the left's racist attacks, their spying and illegal recording of our office meetings or comparing Mitch to mass-murderers and Al Qaeda terrorists, Kentuckians are appalled and will not stand for it."

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Politics
3:17 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Urges Senate to Pass Gun Background Checks

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth encouraged the Senate to pass legislation creating stricter background checks before purchasing a gun.

Yarmuth cited a constituent's letter in The Courier-Journal that criticized lawmakers for being beholden to the National Rifle Association over common sense gun laws. Poll numbers did indicate a large number of Americans backed tighter gun restrictions, but as NPR reported last month those figures began to wane to pre-Newtown levels in recent weeks.

But Yarmuth says the Senate needs to listen to the "vast majority" of Americans and Kentuckians and pass background checks for gun purchasers.

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Politics
11:03 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Senator Rand Paul: President Obama Using Gun Victims, Families As 'Props'

Senator Rand Paul
Credit U.S. Senate

Speaking to reporters at an event organized by the Christian Science Monitor, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasted President Obama for using the families of gun violence victims in his push for legislative reforms.

From Huffington Post:

"I think gun control is a legitimate issue for us to debate," Paul said. "I hate to see using people, I think, as props and politicizing people's tragedy. When I see the father and the mothers and them testifying - and I know they're coming voluntarily, and they want to come and be part of this debate - but it still saddens me just to see them, and I think that in some cases the president has used them as props. And that disappoints me.

The president has reached out to family members of victims from the Newtown massacre in the aftermath.

One mother stood in for Obama during one of his weekly presidential addresses. In that speech Francine Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son was murdered during the shooting spree, pleaded for stricter gun control laws.

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Politics
10:28 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Joins Bipartisan Group Favoring Immigration Reform

Congressman John Yarmuth and Senator Rand Paul
Credit Phillip Bailey / WFPL News

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth is joining a bipartisan group of eight House members who are voicing support for fixing the country's immigration system.

Efforts for comprehensive reform in the Senate was backed by President Obama this week after a group of eight senators reached an agreement and unveiled their legislative package.

Among the notable compromises in the measure is giving the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship, but only after stricter border security standards are made. The legislation would also crack down on American employers who hire illegal immigrants.

The statement from Yarmuth's office says lawmakers in the House are also working on drafting a similar bill with Democratic and Republican support.

From Yarmuth's office:

"Americans want to see the nation’s broken immigration system fixed, and they know it will take bipartisanship to solve this problem in a sensible and rational way. This week, a bipartisan group of Senators stepped forward to introduce their proposal, and we applaud their effort.

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Politics
4:00 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Congressman Thomas Massie Co-Sponsors Measure to Protect Conscience Rights

Congressman Thomas Massie
Credit U.S. Congress

Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie has co-sponsored a bill that would allow individuals to ignore portions of the Affordable Care Act that violate their religious beliefs.

The Health Care Conscience Rights Act seeks to protect those who argue expanding coverage for contraceptives and abortion comes into conflict with their faith. For religious and political conservatives, the health care mandate to employers encroaches upon their constitutional rights.

According to Massie's office, the bill also protects health care providers who refuse to perform certain procedures and give refuge to people with religious convictions.

"Obamacare is expensive, unconstitutional, and threatens our First Amendment right of conscience," Massie said in a news release. "This bill protects churches, religious organizations, and business owners from being forced to violate their beliefs."

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Politics
5:08 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Mother Jones Reporter: Kentucky Democrat Discouraged Mitch McConnell Campaign Tape Story

Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn
Credit motherjones.com

The Mother Jones reporter who uncovered a secret recording of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s campaign meeting discussing ways to attack actress Ashley Judd's mental health says a Kentucky Democrat urged him not to write the story.

Journalist David Corn is Washington Bureau Chief for the magazine and appeared on the Diane Rehm Show Monday morning to discuss how he obtained the tape and its contents. He is also the reporter was broke the infamous "47 percent" tape of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Corn says before the original April 9 story about the recordings came out a Kentucky source who "caught wind" of the report discouraged him from writing it and warned the audio would ultimately benefit McConnell.

"There was a person in Kentucky who was sympathetic to the Democrats—let me put it that way—I can’t identify the person. But who got wind that I was going to do the story and contacted me and asked me not to. Why? Because this person wisely predicted that McConnell would come out and make himself the victim and it would help McConnell," he says.

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Politics
2:59 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

John Yarmuth Donates Congressional Salary to Local Charities

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

For the sixth consecutive year, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Ky-3, is giving away his entire congressional salary to almost two dozen non-profit groups in Louisville.

Since taking office, Yarmuth has donated nearly $750,000 to local charities since an initial 2006 campaign pledge to do so. This year's salary is being distributed at various amount among 21 different organizations including the Louisville NAACP, Metro United Way and the Louisville Zoo.

"These remarkable organizations, their staffs and volunteers enrich the Louisville community, and I am fortunate to be in a position to offer some assistance," Yarmuth said in a news release. "With drastic cuts to federal funding for essential community services, it is more critical than ever to do what we can to support the organizations that provide so much for Louisville."

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Politics
9:01 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Poll: 65 Percent of Kentuckians Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling shows Kentucky voters still overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage despite national trends.

The poll was taken in early April, and it finds 65 percent think it should remain illegal and only 27 percent support marriage equality for gay, lesbian and transgendered couples.

That is in stark contrast to national figures that indicate marriage equality is gaining popularity across the country and for the first time hovers well over 50 percent. A number of Republican and Democratic senators have come out for marriage equality in recent weeks such as Democrat Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.

But in Kentucky the idea faces solid opposition regardless of political party. According to PPP, 54 percent of Democratic voters in the state also oppose gay marriage while only 37 percent support it.

The Rev. Maurice Blanchard of Louisville says LGBT residents are getting tired of defending their relationships, adding Kentucky is falling behind the times.

"Those poll shows how disconnected some people are in this state to what’s happening on a larger sense. And that resistance while they’re proud of it is isolating and alienating us from the progress that’s taking place in the larger sense," he says.

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Politics
12:45 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Liberal Group Uses al-Qaeda Recruitment Video to Blast Mitch McConnell Over Gun Control

A liberal advocacy group is launching a controversial new ad targeting Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his opposition to gun control measure that uses an al-Qaeda recruitment video.

Americans United for Change is behind the 30-second spot, which features American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn explaining how lax U.S. laws do not require background checks to obtain firearms.

In the recruitment video, Gadahn calls on Muslims living in the United State to carry out acts of terror and that guns can easily be obtained at local conventions.

The narrator goes on to explain McConnell is against background checks as part of a series of proposed gun control measures in the Senate. He asks: "who does agree with Mitch?"

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