Matt Bevin

Kentucky LRC

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had a vision of bringing casino gambling into Kentucky to generate new revenue for state coffers, as he has often said. But the issue has never taken hold in the legislature.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, reignited the expanded gambling debate on Tuesday, announcing that during next year’s legislative session he would propose a constitutional amendment to allow as many as seven casinos to open in the state. Counties would have to approve new casinos in a local option vote before they could be built.

But after voters elect a new governor in November, advocates of expanded gambling will lose their biggest ally. And it’s unclear whether Beshear’s replacement will support the cause — at least as forcefully as he has.

Last summer, Democratic candidate for governor Jack Conway said he would campaign for expanded gaming, but the issue hasn’t become a major point of contention during the gubernatorial race so far. Spokesman Daniel Kemp said Conway still supports the policy.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin won’t say whether he plans to attend a private meeting hosted by the Kentucky Coal Association and representatives of the energy industry.

KCA President Bill Bissett said Monday that Bevin and Democratic candidate Jack Conway were invited to speak at the group’s annual meeting, which is scheduled for October.

Conway’s campaign told Kentucky Public Radio he would attend. But in an interview on Tuesday, Bevin refused to give a straight answer about whether he would go to the closed-door retreat.

“There’s things that are on my agenda and there’s things that are not on my agenda, and things that will be made aware to the outside world and some that won’t,” Bevin said when asked if he would attend.

In June, Bevin and Conway both appeared at a private event in Virginia attended by luminaries of the nation’s coal industry. The media was not made aware of that event, where the two candidates took questions from Bissett and audience members and sparred with one another, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Coal Association is under fire for again planning a closed-door meeting with the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates.

KCA President Bill Bissett told CN2 last week that the major party candidates for Kentucky governor — Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway — would be speaking during private events at the association’s annual meeting in October.

This would be the second private meeting between energy industry representatives and the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates. Bissett moderated a secret debate this summer in Virginia between Conway and Bevin before coal industry leaders.

The closed-door meetings have drawn criticism from media outlets. In a recent column, Courier-Journal political reporter Joseph Gerth wrote that open discussions are especially important in the close gubernatorial election “because neither of the candidates has been terribly accessible.”

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor is pledging to defund Planned Parenthood operations in the state if he’s elected.

Matt Bevin’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying he would order the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to stop distributing federal taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in Lexington and Louisville.

Bevin said he would order the money returned to the federal government.

Politifact Sheet: Eight Things to Know About the Planned Parenthood Controversy

Planned Parenthood has come under fire from conservatives in recent weeks after an anti-abortion group released videos showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing aborted fetuses. The group behind the videos accuses Planned Parenthood of selling aborted fetuses for a profit, a charge Planned Parenthood strongly denies.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood says it’s a longtime provider of healthcare for low-income women.

In a statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky sent to WKU Public Radio Wednesday, the group said its two centers in Kentucky helped more than 4,700 patients last year.

“Banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood would have a devastating impact on women, men and families—especially those in medically underserved communities and with low incomes —for preventive care, including Pap tests, breast and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and annual wellness exams," said the statement from Planned Parenthood Indiana-Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum.

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway leads Republican Louisville businessman Matt Bevin by a slight margin in the race for governor according to the latest Bluegrass Poll.

Conway leads Bevin 45 to 42 percent according to the survey, which is conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS in Louisville.

When the survey factored in potential independent candidate Drew Curtis, he took 8 percent of the vote.
Among the 863 registered voters polled, Bevin and Conway fared equally well with male voters, each taking 44 percent. Conway does better among female voters, taking 46 percent to Bevin’s 39 percent.

The poll also indicated that current Gov. Steve Beshear has a positive rating in his final year in office, with 51 percent giving him a favorable rating.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jack Conway and Republican rival Matt Bevin once again clashed over the expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid system and state-run health exchange, Kynect at a debate held by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Louisville.

Bevin has pushed for dismantling Kynect and moving recipients onto the federal health exchange.

“We have a governor who has uncorked a disastrous package of cost on us that we’re going to have to deal with," Bevin stated.

Bevin has argued for the elimination of the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which makes eligible all Kentuckians with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty line, and scaling it back to pre-expansion levels.

Conway said if elected he would continue the expansion of Medicaid and state run exchange, saying Kentuckians get better rates through Kynect than on the federal exchange.

“It’s a cheaper, more efficient way to allow people to purchase health insurance,” Conway said.

Conway and Bevin also exchanged a few barbs during the debate—Bevin pointed out that Conway graduated from Kentucky basketball rival Duke University. Conway noted several times that Bevin was not born in Kentucky.

Candidates for Kentucky governor squared off at a forum hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau Thursday, the first public appearance in which the two men directly responded to one another.

The most heated exchange occurred when Conway accused Bevin of wanting to kick 500,000 people off of health insurance, calling him “callous.”

“If we can’t afford something we can potentially scale back but I am not going to kick a half million people off of health insurance on day one," said Conway

Bevin said he wouldn’t kick people off insurance, but rather do away with the state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect, and move recipients onto the federal exchange. He also stated he would eliminate the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

More than 521,000 people signed up for Kynect in the first year of enrollment—and about two-thirds of those enrolled through the Medicaid expansion.

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will headline a Republican fundraising event in late August for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, who last year launched a primary challenge against the longtime senator.

The event will be hosted by Alliance Coal CEO Joe Craft and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight, both of whom chaired the Kentucky fundraising committee for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

McConnell, Craft and Knight’s presence at the event shows a measure of unity among establishment Republicans, who some had speculated wouldn’t aid Bevin after last year’s contentious GOP Senate primary.

Bevin was the benefactor of infighting between two GOP establishment candidates during the primary. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville businessman sparred during the race, which led to a narrow Bevin victory and speculations about a fractured Republican party.

But Bevin and McConnell have repeatedly assured Kentuckians that the GOP is united around Bevin, despite snubs between the two men after McConnell trounced Bevin in last year’s primary last year.

In an invitation sent out on Tuesday morning, attendees are asked to donate $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for the general election as well as $1,000 for his primary campaign. According to June campaign finance records, Bevin still had almost $111,000 in outstanding debts for the primary, which was in May.

WFPL News

Campaign finance records filed last week reveal a late burst of six-figure donations to James Comer in his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor last month, with similar sums going to a political organization aiming to defeat the eventual primary winner, Matt Bevin.

These latest records shed light on so-called “unauthorized campaign committees,” which can raise and spend money to support or oppose candidates — without the authorization of candidates themselves. Unlike personal donations that are capped at $1,000 in Kentucky, the committees can donate as much as they’d like.

According to candidates’ reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, two of these committees spent $743,250 during the period May 6-June 18, about half for Comer, half against Bevin.

Last month Bevin defeated Comer by 83 votes to win the Republican nomination to oppose Democrat Jack Conway in the Nov. 3 election for governor. A millionaire businessman from Louisville, Bevin received no support from unauthorized committees in the May-June reporting period.

omer’s 11th-hour boost came from Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity & Prosperity, a committee headed by investment adviser and Republican fundraiser Richard Knock of Union, in Northern Kentucky. It gave Comer $315,000, mostly in the week before the primary. The money helped Comer pay for more than $300,000 in TV ads in May.

Kentucky’s coal industry still has political influence in the state, even as production declines. That’s illustrated by a closed-door debate hosted by the industry earlier this month. Both of Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidates were there.

The Coal & Investment Leadership Forum was part of a golf and fly fishing retreat attended by industry executives in Virginia. As first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin answered questions posed by Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett and rebutted one another.

Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy obtained a copy of an invitation to the retreat. He says the event boasted about time for one-on-one conversations between politicians, investors and coal executives. “So there’s a lot of social time, a lot of time for potential candidates and potential major funders of campaigns to be talking one on one and presumably to be making promises about what they would do to support the coal industry.” he said.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush also spoke at the retreat, which invitees paid $7,500 to attend.

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