House Speaker Greg Stumbo

9:15 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Once Again Cockfighting Is An Issue in Kentucky Politics

For the third time in as many months, leading Kentucky politicians find themselves addressing cockfighting.

A new federal case brings questions about the bloodsport to a top state Democratic lawmaker and puts the practice back into conversations about the U.S. Senate race.

Federal authorities filed charges against three Eastern Kentucky residents this week in a massive cockfighting ring run out of the Big Blue Sportsman’s Club in McDowell, Ky.

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Local News
1:35 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

State Defunding Attempts Won't Hurt Affordable Care Act In Kentucky, Says House Speaker Greg Stumbo

Credit Legislative Research Commission

Kentucky’s highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker says language in the state’s budget that attempts to pull funding for the Affordable Care Act won’t kill the program.

Kentucky is set to begin paying a portion of the cost for expanded Medicaid and the health-insurance exchange in 2017. Provisions in the recently-passed state budget bar state money from going toward the program.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says it's largely symbolic.

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7:33 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Former Rep. John Arnold's Mental Competence Questioned as Kentucky Ethics Case is Delayed

John Arnold
Credit Jonathan Meador/WFPL News

FRANKFORT—A hearing on the state ethics complaints against former state Rep. John Arnold was delayed Monday amid questions about his mental health.

In an ruling, Legislative Ethics Commission chairman George Troutman ordered that the trial be postponed because of continued uncertainty over Arnold's mental competence. The continuance was asked for in a motion by Steve Downey, Arnold's attorney, said LEC counsel John Schaaf in a statement.

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Local News
5:43 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

No Legal, Legislative Backfire for Kentucky Lawmaker Whose Gun Went Off in Capitol

One day Kentucky after Gov. Steve Beshear praised the state for eschewing stereotypes, a state lawmaker accidentally discharged a gun in her office in the capitol building. 

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, said in a statement that she accidentally fired her 380 Ruger semi-automatic pistol while attempting to unload it. The bullet struck a nearby bookshelf, according to Sgt. Jason Palmer of the Kentucky State Police's legislative detail unit.  

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3:09 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

House Committee Investigating John Arnold Case Has Yet to Investigate

House Clerk Jean Burgin (left) and Committee Chair Rep. Jeff Donohue, D-Louisville (right).
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

FRANKFORT — A special Kentucky House committee tasked with probing sexual harassment claims against former state Rep. John Arnold revealed Thursday morning that it has yet to actually begin investigating.

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Local News
1:32 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Judge to Rule on Stumbo's Dismissal in John Arnold Civil Trial

From left: Cassaundra Cooper, Yolanda Costner, attorney Thomas Clay
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

FRANKFORT — A Franklin Circuit Court judge will decide which parties can be named in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the  former Rep. John Arnold and entities within Kentucky state government. 

Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate gave defendants a week to examine new evidence brought by attorneys for Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper, who allege that Arnold sexually harassed and assaulted them and that their supervisors did little to address it.

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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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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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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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3:56 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Kentucky House Democratic Leaders Knew of Sexual Harassment Claims, Filing Says

A Democratic state lawmaker says some of his colleagues told him to keep quiet allegations of sexual harassment and assault against a fellow legislator to protect the party's majority in upcoming elections

After WFPL News reported the accusations against state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, early Wednesday, Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, took to the House floor to speak out against what he described as a culture of intimidation and sexism in the legislature.

In separate ethics complaints filed last week, two longtime Frankfort staffers, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, outline a pattern of alleged harassment by Arnold dating back to 2010.

According to both women, they brought these issues to the attention of the Legislative Research Commission and top House Democratic leaders.

In a statement to ethics officials, Cooper alleges that on Feb. 14 Arnold walked up behind her and slapped her buttocks. She said she told House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and his chief of staff about the incident, but Arnold continued visiting her office and attempted to hug Cooper, the complaint said.

Costner's statement alleges that Arnold grabbed her underwear in March 2010, but that House Majority Whip Rep. John Will Stacy told her "(Arnold) was harmless."

Riner said a third woman is coming forward and that protecting staffers, who have little job security, matters more to him than who controls the state House.

"You cannot put this off until the next election," he said. "You cannot put this off until tomorrow. There are some things that are more important than which party gets in power. And one of those things is how we treat people that we have power over."

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