ethics violations

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

A federal judge has thrown out much of Kentucky's ethics law regulating contact between legislators and lobbyists.

U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman said Kentucky's law banning lawmakers from accepting gifts or "anything of value" from lobbyists was too vague. He also ruled it was OK for lobbyists to donate to politicians' campaigns and to raise money for them.

Kentucky's ethics law is widely considered to be one of the toughest in the nation. It was put in place in the 1990s following an FBI investigation that resulted in about a dozen lawmakers convicted of taking bribes to pass legislation that benefited the horse industry.

The involvement of a state representative in a major coal deal in Kentucky is raising some eyebrows. The $7 billion contract signed Wednesday creates a 25-year standing order to ship 9 million tons of Kentucky coal annually to India.