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.


1:57 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

City Leaders, Boy Scouts of America Unveil New After School Program

The Boy Scouts of America is forming a partnership with Louisville Metro Government for a new after school pilot program to help at-risk youth and teach them needed skills to deal with drugs and violence.

Mayor Greg Fischer and other city officials unveiled the NOVA Center on Monday, which will involve the Boy Scouts, Jefferson County Public Schools and Metro Parks in the California neighborhood.

It will take in more than three dozen student from Wheatley Elementary, who will be recommended from the schools' family resource center. NOVA will offer math and science tutoring, as well as life skills and mentoring on how to avoid alcohol, drug abuse and bullying.

Fischer says the task of combating violence starts with the youngest children, but it won’t be successful unless everyone participates.

"And so the Boy Scouts stepping up here should really be applauded. It’s a way they’re going to be directly affecting the lives of these kids one student at a time. And whether you look at 55,000 degrees or 15,000 degrees, people often say ‘how can you get it done?’ And I give them the same answer: you get it done one student at a time. It’s not easy," he says.

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8:30 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Libertarian Party Leader Says Members Open to Supporting Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd
Credit Creative Commons

  The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky says his members could be persuaded to vote for Ashley Judd over Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, but the Hollywood actress needs to distance herself from President Obama.

Judd has met with Democratic donors in Louisville and courted state leaders such as Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, in recent weeks.

Libertarian Party Chairman Ken Moellman says he isn't sure if they are running a challenger in 2014. But his members would need to know more about Judd’s fiscal views first, adding there is some agreement with the actress's social views such as same-sex marriage.

"From a libertarian perspective on the gay marriage issue, we tend to take more of the approach that the government shouldn’t be sanctioning marriage anyway. The relationship between two people does not need government involved. I don’t need to ask the government if this guy can be my friend or ‘hey, can I move in with this person’,” he says.

Judd is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage and abortion, and recently gave a speech on women's reproductive rights in Washington, D.C.

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10:42 pm
Sat March 2, 2013

Noise and Notes: Not-So-Super PAC Progress Kentucky, Yum Center Woes, 'Cannabis Majority'

Credit Louisville Public Media

The Louisville-based super PAC Progress Kentucky made national news this week when WFPL broke the story of them attacking Senator Mitch McConnell’s wife based on her Asian heritage.

Leaders with the group have apologized—twice, but just about every Democrat has denounced them or kept their distance, and McConnell has pounced on the comments since returning home.

Even the senator's harshest critics have cried foul.

From The Courier-Journal:

This is no way to defeat McConnell. If anything, it does what McConnell cannot do for himself. It remarkably casts him in a sympathetic light.

But some observers have pointed out Progress received sparse coverage from the local media to being with while getting plenty from national outlets.

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12:57 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Libertarian Party of Kentucky Holding Annual Convention This Weekend

Libertarian Party of Kentucky

The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is gathering in Bowling Green this weekend for its annual convention.

Last year, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson received less than one percent of the vote in Kentucky and the party has no officeholders at the state or federal level.

But the party has seen a 30 percent increase in registration over the past nine months, and recently opened up new chapters in Boone and Campbell county.

Ken Moellman is a former libertarian candidate for state treasurer and is chairing the convention. He says reaching local voters is becoming equally important to the party, and more candidates will be running for those offices in the coming years.

"When I ran for state treasurer in 2011, I was able to fundraise and spent $17,000. Now in a statewide race, that didn’t go very far. But if I was running for county magistrate or city council or even a state House race that would have went a lot farther and a much better use of the money," he says.

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2:42 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Yarmuth Praises Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Congressman John Yarmuth
Credit U.S. Congress

Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says the passage of the Violence Against Women Act is a major victory for millions of American women.

The House reauthorized the measure with a bipartisan coalition of 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans. After months of delay and public pressure, GOP leaders surprised observers by allowing a vote on the House floor Thursday.

"I was very surprised and very pleased. I think the Republican leadership realized that this was potentially a devastating issue for them if they did not at least allow a vote," says Yarmuth

VAWA’s reauthorization means Louisville groups such as Catholic Charities and the Center for Women and Families will continue to receive federal support.

Those organizations receive about $700,000 in funding from the act, and rely on it to pay for staff positions and legal aide. About $4 million is spent on 45 similar agencies across Kentucky.

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5:59 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Amid Financial Woes, Mayor Greg Fischer Appoints City CFO to Arena Authority Board

Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed the city's chief financial officer to the Louisville Arena Authority Board amid growing concerns about the financial stability of the KFC Yum Center in downtown.

The mayor named Steve Rowland to the board on Wednesday, giving the CFO a voting position. Fischer believes the CFO will help the arena authority have a broader view of city operations and related financial projections.

"There’s no doubt the KFC Yum Center is a shining star and the envy of other cities," Fischer said in a statement. "At the same time, the city’s financial responsibility to the bondholders is a significant expense in the city budget. Additionally, revenues from the tax-increment financing district supporting the arena have not performed to the original projections."

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3:58 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Democratic Supporters Pulling Back From Progress Kentucky


The liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky is moving forward with a planned fundraiser despite a national backlash over controversial attacks on the ethnicity of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's wife.

However, many Democratic lawmakers who were once behind the group are either pulling their support or questioning if they will continue to back them.

WFPL first reported on Progress's online messages accusing former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, of moving American jobs to China. The group also Tweeted that Chao's "Chinese (money)" was buying state elections.

Progress executive director Shawn Reilly apologized to Chao late Tuesday evening, and told WFPL the group is going ahead with its first fundraiser scheduled for March 7. The event lists Democratic city officials and state lawmakers as hosts, but at least two are pulling their support altogether.

"Throughout my career I've always stood strong against discrimination. I'm appalled at any person or group who unleash attacks based on religion, ethnics, sexual orientation or gender," says Democratic state Rep. Joni Jenkins of Louisville. "These statements are not only unacceptable they are a distraction from the real issues that face Kentuckians. My name will be taken off the fundraiser for Progress Kentucky."

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12:17 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Mitch McConnell Honors Rosa Parks at Capitol Ceremony

In a dedication featuring President Obama and congressional leaders, civil rights icon Rosa Parks became the first African-American woman to have a statue in the U.S. Capitol.

The 9-foot bronze statue of Parks, who died in 2005, was unveiled Wednesday in Statuary Hall. It honors the "first lady" of the Civil Rights Movement, who became an international figure for freedom and social justice for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Al. bus in 1955.

Speaking at the ceremony, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says Parks's legacy lives on and she served as an inspiration to stand up against injustice.


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8:51 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Progress Kentucky Apologizes to Mitch McConnell's Wife Over 'Chinese' Twitter Messages


Hours after being roundly condemned by Democrats and Republicans, a liberal super PAC is apologizing to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's wife for a series of controversial Twitter messages.

The group's Tweets accused former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, of moving American jobs to China and that her "Chinese (money)" was buying state elections.

Critics slammed the comments as racially offensive, and a national backlash against the group was ignited.

Progress Kentucky executive director Shawn Reilly says they remain dedicated to educating voters about McConnell's record, but their messages "included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity" of the former labor secretary.

"We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress Kentucky are reviewed and approved prior to posting," he says.

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1:03 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Liberal Super PAC Goes After Mitch McConnell's 'Chinese' Wife

Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao
Credit The Heritage Foundation

UPDATE: Progress Kentucky has issued an apology over the incident.

A Democratic group is under sharp criticism for controversial online messages about Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife.

For months, the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky has attacked McConnell and held demonstrations at his offices and home.

Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race.

In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: "This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she's his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!"

The Tweet links to a website run by conspiracy theorist and radio host Jeff Rense, alleging Chao, who was born in Taiwan, discriminated against American workers during her tenure.

Progress Kentucky spokesman Curtis Morrison says the group's leaders do not review every Tweet and initially denied any had mentioned Chao superficially. But he later told WFPL that a group volunteer had sent out the messages targeting the former secretary.

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