Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

Politics
3:11 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Kentucky Environmentalist Tom FitzGerald Mulling Bid Against Mitch McConnell

Environmental lawyer Tom FitzGerald
Credit http://valleywatch.net

Environmental activist and Louisville attorney Tom FitzGerald says he is being encouraged to run against Republican Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky 2014 U.S. Senate race.

The 58-year-old Democrat currently serves as executive director of the Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental group that lobbies state lawmakers on conservation issues.

In a telephone interview, FitzGerald told WFPL the decision is still in its early stages and leaving the non-profit world would be a significant change.

"For me to go into electoral politics and partisan politics is a very different way of approaching public service. I have a real fondness and appreciation for the amazing people of this Commonwealth and I've devoted my adult life to try to improve the quality of the community's health," he says.

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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.

Watch:

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Politics
7:00 am
Sun April 14, 2013

Being a 'Witness' May Not Keep Progress Kentucky Leader from Being Charged with a Crime

One of two members of Progress Kentucky who, by the account of a Jefferson County Democratic Party official, recorded a campaign meeting between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his campaign staff is now saying through his attorneys that he was "just a witness."

Shawn Reilly, the executive director of Progress Kentucky, denies anything more than being at McConnell's office when the recording happened, as first reported by WHAS 11.

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Politics
4:05 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Liberal Group Politicizes Kevin Ware Injury, Petitions NCAA for Athlete Health Care

Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffers a broken leg
Credit usmagazine.com

A liberal group is launching a petition asking the NCAA be required to provide universal health care for student athletes in the wake of a shocking leg injury to Louisville men's basketball player Kevin Ware.

Ware suffered a compound fracture of his right leg on Sunday during the Cardinals's game against Duke in the Elite Eight.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee points out the NCAA makes $780 million per year off college athletes, but does not guarantee full payment of medical bills for injuries.

Louisville’s basketball program is also the most profitable in the country, raking in $40 million in revenue annually with a projected $23 to $28 million in profit.

The Ware injury has gained national media attention, but is has also put the spotlight on how college athletes aren't protected and universities aren't legally obligated to take care of players once they're hurt.

From The New York Times:

University officials say they go out of their way to inform students about the limits of insurance. Yet the situation has confused and frustrated athletes and their families, some of whom have had to shoulder large and unexpected medical bills.

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Politics
10:00 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Mitch McConnell Campaign Radio Ad Features 'Fiery' CPAC Speech

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

The campaign to re-elect Republican Senator Mitch McConnell launched a new statewide radio ad this week featuring the GOP leader's fiery remarks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference.

During the speech, McConnell pledge to conservative activists the fight against the Affordable Care Act will will continue despite the Supreme Court upholding the legislation and President Obama's re-election last fall.

In the one-minute radio spot, McConnell assails the president's overall agenda while urging conservatives to remain true to their principles.

"If you believe in your heart that the direction Barack Obama wants to take this country is wrong, its time to stand up together and punch back," McConnell says in the ad.

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Politics
1:26 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Pros and Cons for Potential 2014 Mitch McConnell Challengers Judd, Grimes and Bevin

Ashley Judd
Credit Creative Commons

Kentuckians have 590 days-plus before the 2014 general election, but already the political chatter is centered on potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell—chiefly actress Ashley Judd and her potential candidacy's supposed strengths and weaknesses.

But Judd isn't the only possible candidate.

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Politics
4:04 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Lexington Reporter Pulled from Democratic Club Meeting After Call from Mitch McConnell's Office

Democratic sources are alleging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s office pressured the Lexington Herald-Leader to stop a reporter from addressing a political club, but the newspaper's editor denies any such demands were made.

Journalist John Cheves was invited to speak before the Louisville Metropolitan Democratic Club this week to talk about an investigative series he wrote on Kentucky's senior Senator in 2006.

The event caught the attention of McConnell’s office after being promoted by Progress Kentucky, a liberal super PAC that was denounced by Democrats and Republicans over racially insensitive Tweets about the senator's wife.

A source tells WFPL McConnell’s office questioned the newspaper's "journalistic integrity" and requested Cheves not appear.

Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak says a McConnell spokesman did ask about the event, but no political pressure was applied.

"I gather they had seen something on social media mentioning the meeting and they just asked the simple question of whether it was accurate that John was the speaker. They didn’t make any demands of any kind," he says. "It was from that point the editors at the Herald-Leader did not know this meeting had been scheduled."

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Politics
7:34 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Mitch McConnell Congratulates Pope Francis

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is praising the selection of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio to head the Catholic Church as the new pope.

From McConnell's office:

"Catholics across Kentucky and the entire U.S. celebrate the election of Pope Francis I, and I join Americans of all faiths to congratulate him on becoming the spiritual leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics.

As a voice of clarity and force on the great moral challenges of our time, the Pope plays a uniquely constructive role in world affairs, and as a herald of the Christian message of charity and reconciliation he calls all of us to a greater recognition of the inherent dignity of all men and women.

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Politics
3:59 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Team Mitch Launching First TV Ad This Week

Senator Mitch McConnell
Credit File photo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will be running his first TV ad for re-election in Kentucky this week.

McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton confirmed with WFPL it will be a "positive buy" costing six figures and will begin airing Thursday.

Thus far, the GOP leader has been pummeled by attack ads from liberal groups on gun regulations and birth control.

"Every out-of-state liberal group with an axe to grind is desperate to tear Mitch down at all costs, but we're going to make sure we communicate our positive message to every voter in the commonwealth," says Benton.

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Politics
8:59 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Filibuster Reveals Close But 'Shrewd' Relationship Between Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell

Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul at a Tea Party rally in Kentucky
Credit Kenny Colston / Kentucky Public Radio

Senator Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour talking filibuster reveals a telling wrinkle about the so-called symbiotic relationship with fellow Kentuckian and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

According to the National Journal, a week and a half before the speech Paul approached McConnell's campaign manager Jesse Benton—who is also Paul's nephew—about blocking the nomination of CIA director John Brennan.

The Republican leader had considered such a move beforehand, according to sources. But McConnell was glad to help "win over" other GOP senators to the idea on Paul's behalf in another attempt to show their solidarity.

"There were multiple discussions at senior staff levels about Senator Paul's plans to hold the Brennan nomination, and Sen. McConnell had agreed to hold, at the least, Mr. Brennan's confirmation to a 60 vote threshold," says Benton.

It was a masterful coordination that put the Obama administration's drone policy in the national spotlight, and put Senate Democrats on their heels.

But what Team Mitch was apparently unaware of was Paul's intention to actually perform a "talking" filibuster rather a "cloture." The reaction amongst McConnell surrogates has been a mix of admiration ("he's savvy") and apprehension ("it was shrewd").

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