Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway is concerned about the influence that a conservative 501(c)(4) group could have on Kentucky’s fall elections and beyond.
Americans for Prosperity was founded in 2004, and was led by David Koch of the billionaire, right-wing Koch brothers fame. The group and its network of undisclosed donors spent $40 million in 2010 to wrest control of the U.S. House from Democrats.
And with the recent announcement that the group has hired a director for its Kentucky chapter, Attorney General Conway says he’s concerned that the network of “dark” campaign money will warp Kentucky politics.
“I don’t think we ought to let in Kentucky state politics happen what’s happened at the federal level," said Conway. " Because people raise money for Senate campaign or House campaigns, and all of a sudden the corporate interests come in in the end and outspend what the individuals raised, and they treat the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives like it’s members are just nothing more than pawns in a larger corporate game.”
Citing a need to be with his family, Democratic Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen has declared he won't run for governor next year.
Speculation was rampant that Edelen would enter the contest, but he quelled it with an announcement Wednesday.
“My wife and my sons were all gung-ho for me to run, but at the end of the day I made the determination that I’d rather spend the next year-and-a-half coaching little league and catching crooks and running for re-election than I would worrying about my name ID in a governor’s race,” said Edelen
Attorney General Jack Conway is currently the only Democrat seeking the governor's office.
Edelen says he is withholding any endorsements until more candidates enter the race.
But he thinks Conway will benefit from greater name recognition among voters. Republican Hal Heiner of Louisville is the only Republican to announce a gubernatorial candidacy so far.
Edelen says he is “absolutely” considering running for governor in the future.
Tobacco companies have agreed to give Kentucky more than $110 million to settle a 10-year legal battle over the state's share of the tobacco master settlement agreement.
In 1998, U.S. tobacco companies agreed to pay $229 billion to 52 states and territories over many years to compensate for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses. Kentucky had to tax tobacco companies that did not participate in the agreement.
The big tobacco companies accused Kentucky of not collecting all of those taxes. As a result, they withheld some of Kentucky's annual payments. State officials and tobacco companies have been fighting over those disputed payments since 2003.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway said the money will go to pay for a range of agricultural and public health programs.
A Lexington-based company has been ordered to return $7.75 million in assets to more than 350,000 people who were caught up in what officials say was one of the country's largest pyramid schemes.
The Federal Trade Commission along with attorneys general in Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina announced the settlement Tuesday with Lexington-based Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing. Officials said the company would charge people $249 for the rights to sell products like satellite TV service and home security systems. Officials said more than 98 percent of the people who paid the fee lost money.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway called it a classic pyramid scheme. An attorney for Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for returning the money to consumers.
Jonathan Meador's report on Tuesday's announcement by Jack Conway
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway officially announced in a video press release on Tuesday his candidacy for governor, adding that he has tapped House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, as his running mate.
“Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and continue to move Kentucky forward, and we begin doing that by building a great team. The strength of this gubernatorial ticket is bolstered by Rep. Sannie Overly’s record of accomplishments.”
Conway has served as the state’s Attorney General since 2008. Overly, a Democrat from Paris, was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2008, and in 2013 became the first woman in state history to be elected Caucus Chair by House Democrats.
“As governor, Jack will fight for better jobs, to fix our schools, and to help our families confront the economic struggles they face every day,” Overly said in a statement. “Jack has refused to back down from the toughest fights and he has won. Together, we will work hard to build Kentucky’s future.”
Conway is the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in the 2015 gubernatorial election; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, a Republican, threw his hat into the ring earlier this year. Former Lexington urban-county council member K.C. Crosbie is Heiner's running mate.
Former Kentucky state auditor Crit Luallen says she will not run for governor in 2015.
Luallen has been mentioned as a possible Democratic contender as Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear finishes his second term.
In a written statement, Luallen said Thursday she is passionate about Kentucky's future but decided not to run because it was the best decision for her family.
Luallen's decision could open the door for Attorney General Jack Conway, a Luallen ally, to seek the Democratic nomination. Current state Auditor Adam Edelen is also considering running for governor. Republican Hal Heiner is the only person to officially announce as a candidate.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo has asked Democrats to delay their candidacies until after the November elections, in which Alison Lundergan Grimes is running for U.S. Senate and Democrats are trying to keep control of the state House of Representatives.
After years of complaints and calls for investigations from consumers, Kentucky's fluctuating gas prices are now being investigated in Washington. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the state's single supply of gasoline, a monopoly by Marathon Oil.
Spokeswoman Alison Martin says Attorney General Jack Conway and Governor Beshear had a study done on the impact of artificially high prices on Kentucky consumers and have turned its data over to the FTC. The Commission originally declined to look into the situation but that changed with the appointment of a new chair, Edith Ramirez, earlier this year.
Martin says despite public outcry the last several years, the state's regular sudden price hikes don't qualify as actual "price gouging" that could be acted on during a statewide emergency.
Six universities in Kentucky may now begin growing legal hemp this year. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told Kentucky Public Radio his office has received the go-ahead from the Attorney General's office to begin pilot projects with the plant.
Those projects were made possible by last year's state legislation providing a regulatory framework and a provision inserted in a recent federal farm bill. Comer says his office will begin immediately to finalize regulations concerning the growth and production of hemp.
A multi-million dollar settlement between Kentucky and two pharmaceutical companies will fund a variety of drug treatment efforts.
Attorney General Jack Conway’s office announced Monday that over $32 million in settlement money will go toward expanding drug treatment centers, treatment scholarships and juvenile drug services.
The Substance Abuse treatment Advisory Committee will oversee the disbursement of the funds. It was created by Gov. Steve Beshear, and will be chaired by Conway.
The efforts are a response to the growing heroin abuse problem in Kentucky, which is the target of bipartisan legislation introduced in the General Assembly that could charge dealers with homicide in the event of an overdose death.
In 2012, heroin overdose deaths in Kentucky rose by 550 percent.