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Bevin’s Spokeswoman Leaving For Trump Campaign

10 hours ago
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s spokeswoman is leaving to take a position with the Donald Trump campaign.

Jessica Ditto is resigning to become deputy communications director for the Republican nominee for president.

Before being named as Bevin’s spokeswoman last year, Ditto was communications director for his campaign and transition office. She also worked for former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher and the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Ditto will work in New York with Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser. Miller was a consultant for Bevin’s 2015 campaign for governor.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers are once again calling for transparency in the state’s pension agencies, which manage the worst-funded public retirement funds in the nation.

Even though legislators on both sides of the aisle agree on some transparency provisions, the issue has taken on a political tone ahead of high-stakes races to determine control of the state House of Representatives this fall.

Last week Rep. James Kay, a Democrat from Versailles, proposed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would alter how the pension agency for most state workers — Kentucky Retirement Systems — operates. The legislation would make pension contracts and investments public, and require the agency to operate under the same purchasing guidelines as state government.

Kay said the bill would give state employees and the public peace of mind.

“They would better know how their contributions and tax dollars are being invested,” Kay said in a news release. “This system needs less secrecy and more accountability, and my bill provides for both.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Republicans and Democrats are fundraising on the back of Gov. Matt Bevin’s controversial comments in which he predicted that conservatives might have to “shed blood” if Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Bevin sent out an email Thursday asking followers to donate to his campaign account after a national response to the speech. In the email, he derided Clinton supporters and the “liberal media” for being in an “uproar” over the remarks, which he drew from a quotation by Thomas Jefferson.

“It goes to show how out of touch liberals are with our principles and values when they take offense to statements by our founding fathers,” Bevin wrote in the email. “We must fight to preserve the exceptionalism and the promise of America, because America is worth it.”

Bevin could pass along any funds raised to the state Republican Party, local legislative races or use the money to pay down his campaign debt. The governor personally loaned his campaign $4.1 million during last year’s gubernatorial race.

J. Tyler Franklin

A state judge has denied Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's request to block an expert witness' testimony about the University of Louisville's accreditation.

Bevin abolished and replaced the University of Louisville board of trustees earlier this year. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, saying the order was illegal. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked Bevin's order, but asked both sides to present testimony from expert witnesses about how Bevin's order would impact the school's accreditation.

Bevin attorney Chad Meredith declined to present an expert witness, and asked Shepherd to block a witness called by Beshear. He said the testimony was not relevant to the issue of whether Bevin has the authority to replace the board.

Shepherd called Bevin's request a "dramatic change in direction" and denied it. The hearing is continuing Thursday.

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A new study shows that Kentucky has the worst-funded pension system in the nation, compounded by the fact that of all the states, the commonwealth is doing the worst at paying off its pension debt.

According to a new survey by S&P Global Ratings, Kentucky has $31. 2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and the state’s various pension funds have 37.4 percent of the money they need to make payouts to current and future retirees, the lowest ratio of all states.

Last month, state pension officials reported that the main pension fund for state workers — the $1.9 billion Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems non-hazardous fund — is only 17 percent funded and declined by about $347 million over the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

Officials blame $326 million of the loss on “negative cash flows associated with employer contributions” — which includes funds from local governments, the state and other agencies that participate in KERS — and a 4 percent increase in the number of retirees to whom the system had to pay benefits. The fund also saw a 0.68 percent decline in investment returns, attributing that to a loss of $21 million.

Meanwhile, the agency that manages the fund, Kentucky Retirement Systems, paid $123 million in fees to investment managers — a practice that has drawn fire from some lawmakers for being too secretive and costly.

Kentukcy LRC

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is moving forward with awarding $100 million for workforce training projects despite a warning from the top House Democrat that the actions could be illegal.

Bevin wants to borrow $100 million and use it to aid programs that train Kentucky's workforce. Wednesday, a committee appointed by Bevin and legislative leaders reviewed 114 proposals and approved 91 of them to submit formal applications next month.

The state legislature passed a law detailing how that money would be spent, but Bevin vetoed it and is developing the criteria himself. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo sued, saying Bevin's veto was illegal. The case is pending.

The Bevin administration is mostly following the criteria that lawmakers approved. One difference is Bevin is not requiring the money to be distributed evenly among  Kentucky's six congressional districts.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said Wednesday that his recent speech containing remarks about shedding blood was a warning against American apathy.

Bevin made the controversial comments Saturday during a speech in Washington at the Value Voters Summit hosted by the conservative Family Research Council.

During that speech, Bevin said it might be necessary for “patriots” to shed their blood and the blood of “tyrants” if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Here is some of what Bevin said during his Values Voter Summit speech:

"Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview, 'Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive, that we’d ever be able to recover as a nation?' And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots.

Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something that we, through our apathy and our indifference, have given away. Don’t let it happen."

After several Kentucky Democrats criticized Bevin for encouraging political violence, the Republican Governor issued a statement saying his speech was aimed at the dangers of “radical Islamic extremists.”

Speaking Wednesday to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club, Bevin said his speech in Washington was targeting the indifference he believes many Americans feel towards the political system.

“We have an opportunity to battle ideologically, politically, spiritually, morally, economically—we have the ability to have these levels of debate. Because, if in fact, we don’t, we will ultimately be forced to fight physically. That’s the point I made. That’s exactly what I said.”

Yana Paskova/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is set to return to the campaign trail on Thursday after taking a three-day hiatus to recover from pneumonia.

"Thanks very much for your continued patience today as [Clinton] remains home. She has spent the day catching up on reading briefings, making calls, and she watched President Obama's speech in Philadelphia on TV. We will resume campaign travel on Thursday, more details to come," the Democratic nominee's campaign told reporters in an email.

Clinton has not campaigned since Sunday, after she left a Sept. 11 memorial service after her campaign said she became overheated and dehydrated. A video later showed her losing her balance and being helped into a Secret Service van. Clinton went to her daughter, Chelsea's, nearby apartment and left without assistance about 90 minutes later. Her campaign later revealed she had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday.

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Facing a $60 million penalty from the federal government, Tennessee lawmakers have repealed an underage drunken driving law that ran afoul of zero-tolerance standards.

The Senate passed the measure 31-1 on Wednesday and the House later followed suit on an 85-2 vote.

The state law that went into effect in July had raised the penalties for driving under the influence by 18- through 20-year-olds. But by also raising the maximum allowable blood alcohol content from 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent for those drivers, the state stood to lose 8 percent of its federal road funding money on Oct. 1

Gov. Bill Haslam called lawmakers into a special session this week to return the 0.02 percent rule along with the more lenient penalties for drivers below the legal drinking age.

Ryland Barton

Democratic congressional candidate Nancy Jo Kemper said Tuesday that Republican Gov. Matt Bevin should be impeached on the grounds that calling for innocent lives to be taken is illegal.

Kemper is referring to a speech Bevin made over the weekend at a Family Research Council event in Washington D.C. in which he said that Americans might have to shed blood to protect conservative values if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“I believe that his call to shed the blood of fellow Americans is unconstitutional and a violation of his sworn oath to uphold the laws of the commonwealth,” Kemper said at a news conference.

Bevin went on to say that if Clinton were elected, “patriots” might have to “pay the price” by shedding their own blood and the blood of “tyrants” to help the nation recover.

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Forty seven Republicans were joined by 23 Democrats to vote to oust GOP Rep. Jeremey Durham from the Tennessee state Legislature.

The 70 votes Tuesday were four more than the minimum needed to meet the constitutional threshold of two-thirds of the members needed for the House to eject a sitting member.

Two Republicans voted against the ouster. Fourteen GOP members abstained, along with two Democrats. Ten members were absent.

Durham faced allegations of sexual harassment detailed in a state attorney general's report. He denied most of them.

The ouster marks the first time the Tennessee Legislature has ejected a sitting member since 1980. The only previous expulsions came when six members refused attend a special session to ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1866.

J. Tyler Franklin

Over the weekend, Gov. Matt Bevin said that Americans might have to shed blood to protect conservative values if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Bevin has since clarified that the comments were in reference to the fight against Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically so that we don’t have to do it physically, but that may in fact be the case,” Bevin said at a Family Research Council event in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

Bevin went on to say that if Clinton were elected, “patriots” might have to “pay the price” by shedding their own blood and the blood of “tyrants” to help the nation recover.

“Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away,” Bevin said.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Group

Republicans were already at a massive disadvantage when it came to the 2016 Senate map — defending more than double the number of seats of the Democrats had. To compound matters, many of those endangered Republicans were sitting in swing state territory in a presidential year where the electorate already leans more liberal.

Donald Trump's once-sagging poll numbers rebounded nationally after cratering post-convention. He's doing better now in battlegrounds where he needs to win the White House — and where Republicans are defending their toughest Senate seats — but overall still narrowly lags Hillary Clinton.

Some Republican seats once thought to be sure-wins for Democrats, such as Ohio and Florida, are moving off the table. But now, seats in typically safe GOP turf, such as Indiana and Missouri, are at real risk of flipping. It's a much different path to the majority than either party had expected.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Former President Bill Clinton will take his wife's place at several campaign events in the next couple of days. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been recovering from pneumonia at home after abruptly leaving a 9/11 commemoration ceremony in New York on Sunday, where her campaign said she became overheated and dehydrated.

Hillary Clinton was due to appear at fundraisers in California on Tuesday and make an appearance for a campaign event near Las Vegas, Nev., on Wednesday, where her husband will now go instead.

Clinton did tweet a message while home in Chappaqua, N.Y., expressing her desire to return to campaigning quickly.

Hillary Clinton will release more information about her medical condition in the next couple of days, her campaign says. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said the release is being done "to further put to rest any lingering concerns" about the Democratic nominee's health.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked Kentucky Republicans to pray for his party to maintain control amid what he called a "challenging" election cycle this November.

McConnell was one of several speakers at the Republican Party of Kentucky's annual Lincoln Dinner that also included U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Gov. Matt Bevin. Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats in November while Democrats are defending 10 seats. McConnell said many of the Republican races are in competitive states that are "in the crosshairs of the presidential" race.

Bevin urged people to elect Republicans to the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. All 100 seats are up for re-election in November. Bevin said the change is needed for him to sign anti-abortion legislation.

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