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
6:48 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Senate Rejects Rand Paul's Border Security Amendment to Immigration Bill

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

The Senate has rejected Kentucky Republican Rand Paul's amendment to hold annual border security votes as part of comprehensive immigration reform by a 61-to-37 vote.

Under Paul's 'Trust But Verify" proposal, Congress would be required to vote once every five years to certify the border is sufficiently secure. Specifically, the amendment calls for 95 percent apprehension rate, a double fence on the U.S-Mexico border and full border surveillance.

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Politics
5:51 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Urges Against Food Stamp Cuts But For Ban on Soda Purchases

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is urging Congress against cutting food stamps in the upcoming farm bill.

But a letter the mayor signed also asks federal lawmakers to bar recipients from buying sodas and other sugary beverages.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation this week with the $80 billion Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, at the center of the debate. Republicans are pushing for $4 billion in cuts, but Democrats argue that could kick up to 2 million recipients off the food stamp rolls.

On Tuesday Fischer joined over a dozen other mayors in saying Congress should do more to combat obesity and create incentives for food stamp recipients to buy more fruits and vegetables.

Among those who signed the letter were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pushed to ban soda drinks in large sizes  before a court ruling nixed the plan.

"Congress should direct the USDA to test policies that support healthful food choices and reduce consumption of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that threaten the health of many Americans," the letter reads.

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Politics
1:45 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth to Seek Re-Election in 2014

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democrat John Yarmuth will seek a fifth term as Kentucky's Third District Congressman in 2014.

The lone Democrat in Kentucky's 8-member federal delegation, Yarmuth's position has been elevated as a point person for the White House on federal appointments. And he is currently a member of the bipartisan work group that is crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House.

In a message to supporters on Tuesday, Yarmuth says it was important to make an official decision long before the January filing deadline.

"Representing the people of Louisville is the best job I could ever hope for," he says. "Hearing from our community and fighting for our priorities continues to drive me as it did from day one, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon."

Earlier this year, the Yarmuth campaign dismissed speculation that a sparse first quarter fundraising report was a sign of retirement.

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Politics
7:03 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Senator Rand Paul Introduces 'Secure the Vote' Amendment to Immigration Bill

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

Republican Rand Paul is introducing an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill that would bar undocumented immigrants from voting in federal elections until they obtain U.S. citizenship.

The proposed is being put out on the same day the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that required residents to prove their citizenship before voting.

Paul's "Secure the Vote" amendment is aimed a tackling voter fraud and ensures those on work visas or given status under the Senate bill are not allowed to vote in federal elections until they become citizens.

The amendment would also provide states with new procedures to check that those individuals are not illegally registered to vote.

"Not only would this amendment prevent voter fraud, it would also clear up the problem created by today’s Supreme Court decision," Paul said in a statement. "My amendment requires states to check citizenship before registering people to vote in federal elections."

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Politics
4:15 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell Faces Political Threats Amid Legal Controversies

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell
Credit louisvilleky.gov

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell is rejecting a private ethics sanction from the Kentucky Bar Association.

As a result he is facing harsher penalties and increased scrutiny from critics, who are openly recruiting former Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel to run against O'Connell next year.

In January, O’Connell wrote a stinging letter to Jefferson district court judges demanding they put a stop certain legal maneuvers in DUI cases. A number of judges and defense lawyers called O'Connell's letter "inappropriate," and asked for ethics sanctions to be filed.

The Courier-Journal reported this week an inquiry commission ruled on May 8 that O’Connell violated rules barring attorneys from contacting judges without the other side present.

Legal observers are surprised O’Connell made the matter public, and many critics acknowledge it has given momentum to efforts at recruiting Stengel to take on the incumbent county attorney in 2014.

"I don’t know if you want to call it arrogance, feistiness or defiance. But I think (O'Connell) has made it clear that he’s going to do what he wants and doesn’t care what anybody has to say or do about it," says defense attorney Christian Mascagni.

"I call tell you there are many private attorneys who would love Mr. Stengel to run against him. I believe that especially in light of what's come out now, if Mr. Stengel were to run—and we're all hoping that he will—I think he would be a very tough candidate for Mr. O'Connell."

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Politics
10:59 pm
Sat June 15, 2013

Noise and Notes: Bennie J. Smith's Long Shot Quest to Retire Mitch McConnell

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bennie J. Smith

When Louisville musician Bennie J. Smith announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Senator Mitch McConnell even he compared it to a David versus Goliath proposition.

A jazz musician and Danville, Ky. native, Smith is equal parts music promoter and human rights activist.

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Politics
1:05 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Scolds Lawmakers for Lack of Gun Control Since Newtown Massacre

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

In a scolding statement, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says it is shameful Congress has not enacted stricter gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Six months have passed since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where a lone gunman killed 20 children and six adults with a semi-automatic weapon.

The shooting sparked a fierce national debate about firearms and the Second Amendment, and a handful of states have either passed or are considering stricter gun laws since.

But gun rights advocates were able to block stricter laws from getting through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"It is shameful that six months after Newtown, Congress has failed to enact a single gun-safety measure," says Yarmuth. "Nine in 10 Americans demand action to strengthen our gun laws, and I stand with them. It is long past time to enact meaningful reforms that help keep our families safe, our communities secure, and our country free from the daily toll of gun violence."

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Politics
11:00 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Following Cuts in Mayor's Budget Plan, Non-Profits Ask Louisville Metro Council for More Funding

The Louisville Metro Council heard from over three-dozen organizations that were cut in Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget.

Speakers representing ministerial foundations, arts groups and other non-profit agencies implored city lawmakers to add needed funding for their programs, which provide various charitable services.

Among those who presented their case before the council was Charles King, who is president and CEO of Project One President, which a summer jobs program for Louisville youth.

Joined by dozens of teenage participants, King says despite passing accredited reviews and receiving $80,000 from the city last year, Fischer’s proposal allocated nothing for the group in his new spending plan.

"The zero funding could not come at a worse time," he says. "Violence is rampant in our communities, and summer jobs represent violence reduction and public safety. Teen unemployment is at 24 percent and in impoverished communities it’s nearing 50 percent."

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Politics
8:55 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Louisville Tea Party Calls Mitch McConnell A Hypocrite for Defending NSA Surveillance

The Louisville Tea Party calls out McConnell
Credit Twitter

The Louisville Tea Party is blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for defending the National Security Agency's surveillance program while decrying a secret recording of his own campaign office.

Earlier this week, McConnell said the NSA obtaining the call logs for millions of Americans is legal, adding it has the proper congressional and judicial oversight.

McConnell acknowledged privacy concerns, but said the national intelligence director declassified enough information to downplay the public's concerns.

In a Twitter message sent out Wednesday afternoon, however, the tea party group representing Kentucky's largest city called McConnell a "hypocrite" for supporting the program.

"Hey @Team_Mitch, why do you get so upset when someone spies on you, but you want to spy on all of us?"

The online message makes reference to McConnell and his re-election staff crying foul over a liberal activist who recorded campaign strategy session.

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Politics
7:00 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Poll: Kentuckians Favor Senate Immigration Bill 3-to-1

A new poll shows a solid majority of Kentucky voters support the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate.

The survey conducted by Harper Polling finds 63 percent of Kentuckians favor the so-called 'Gang of 8' legislation, with just 20 percent opposed. It also shows that 73 percent of likely voters support a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Members of Kentucky's federal delegation have been at the center of the immigration debate thus far, with  Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth working on the House version and Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul both saying the Senate bill will need to be changed.

But observers note the high percentage of those in the state who support the principles of the 'Gang of 8' bill illustrates the outcome is brighter than previous attempts to reform the system.

"When you look at a number like that when it's that high it makes you think there's a chance something can actually get passed. And when Kentucky members of Congress and our two senators see this kind of approval back in their home state and back in their home districts it’s going to increase the likelihood of them wanting to vote for it," says former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who is director of the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

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