politics

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.

J. Tyler Franklin

Along with elections for president, U.S. Senate and Congress, Kentucky voters will decide in November the political control of the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South controlled by Democrats.

Kentuckians have put more and more Republicans into office over the past few decades. Last year’s election brought a new crop of Republican constitutional officers to state government, including Gov. Matt Bevin, only the second Republican to hold the office in four decades.

The state also hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1996 or U.S. Senator since 1992.

But many Democrats have still had success on a local level. After four open House seats triggered special elections in March, Democrats stunned Republicans by winning three of the four seats.

Still, Democrats’ 95-year control of the state House is at a low watermark of 53 seats, while Republicans have 47.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul wants to halt the sale of $1 billion in U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia.

The Bowling Green Republican said he planned to introduce what’s known as a privileged resolution Wednesday that would block the sale. Paul says the move guarantees the Senate will have to vote on the matter before going on a break in the next few weeks.

Paul cited two reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t ship the arms to the Saudis.

“One, I think they're an uncertain ally. Two, I think they have an abysmal human rights record. They treat women as second-class citizens there. Women who are raped are often then victimized by the state by imprisonment and whipping.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race continues its sleepy pace past Labor Day as Democratic candidate Jim Gray fights to be competitive and the incumbent lays low, enjoying a Republican surge in the state.

Gray and Republican incumbent Rand Paul have — mostly through their spokespeople — squared off on issues such as revitalizing the coal industry, gun control and finding solutions to the opioid epidemic. But interest in the race has paled in comparison to the 2014 barnburner between Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Steve Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, said that’s partly due to there being so many competitive Senate races across the country.

“Both the Democrats themselves and the affiliated interest groups who often throw money into a Senate race have a really wide board on which to play the game this election,” Voss said.

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Donald Trump has long insisted he's uniquely qualified to fix a political system corrupted by campaign contributions because he knows that system inside and out.

"I give to everybody," Trump said in a Fox News debate last summer. "When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later? I call them. They are there for me."

Those words are hanging over Trump this week as he fields questions about a three-year-old campaign contribution he made to a fundraising committee for Florida's attorney general Pam Bondi. That contribution has drawn scrutiny in part because the $25,000 came from Trump's non-profit charitable foundation — in violation of IRS rules — and because the foundation failed to properly report the gift on its tax return. The foundation incorrectly reported that the money went to an unrelated charity in Kansas with a similar name.

"There's a problem first of all with a charity giving a political contribution and then it looks like there's a problem with giving false information to the IRS," said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group.

Ryland Barton

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd has been in the news a lot lately. He’s the judge who will decide a handful of lawsuits that deal with the scope of the governor’s powers.

His effect on public policy is undeniable, and his rulings regarding the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin have already drawn unusually strong praise and rebuttal.

But many Kentuckians probably don’t know Shepherd, who’s elected only by voters in Franklin County, which includes Frankfort.

Shepherd’s biography stretches back into state government history.

In 1991, state Sen. Greg Higdon thought he was being vetted to be the next secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection cabinet under newly elected Gov. Brereton Jones, a Democrat. Then Jones’s chief of staff asked Higdon if he’d consider taking a lower position, that of deputy secretary.

“I said no, I’m not interested,” said Higdon, now president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers.

Rick Howlett

Lawmakers are considering whether to allow the home delivery of alcohol in Kentucky.

A Boston-based alcohol delivery company called Drizly wants to add Kentucky to its list of places where customers can use its app, which sources local stores to deliver beer, liquor and wine. The company is asking the state legislature to consider a bill that would allow it to operate in the state.

Nick Rellas, CEO of Drizly, said the app allows local companies to make money off trade on the internet.

“They’re able to put their prices, their products up. Consumers are able to shop for alcohol on their phone or on the internet and have it delivered just like they do essentially every other area of their life,” Rellas said.

Richard Drew/AP

Hillary Clinton told FBI investigators no one at the State Department raised concerns with her about using private email servers to conduct government business during her time as secretary of state.

Clinton repeatedly told investigators she relied on seasoned professionals at the department to ensure that classified information was handled properly. And she insisted her use of the private server was for convenience, not an attempt to evade Freedom of Information Act requests or government record-keeping laws.

Clinton's statements are detailed in a record of the July 2 interview released today by the FBI. (You can read that and the FBI's longer investigative report here.)

Images via Candidate Facebook Pages

Following Congressman Ed Whitfield’s resignation this week, both the Democratic and Republican candidates for his 1st District seat praised the lawmaker’s 22 years in Washington.

Whitfield announced his retirement nearly a year ago, but submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Matt Bevin this week, effective September 6.

Republican nominee James Comer says Whitfield’s move presents a unique opportunity for the winner of the coming special election, assuming they also win the general election.

“I feel like he’s resigned to help the next Congressman gain seniority, so I think that was a very noble thing for him to do and I appreciate it and hopefully I can win the election and gain some badly needed seniority right off the bat," Comer said.

Paul and Gray campaigns

A new political action committee is hoping to boost the chances of Kentucky Democrats winning the state’s U.S. Senate race this November.

Kentucky Moving Forward is a Super PAC that will raise money for a media campaign aimed at helping Lexington Mayor Jim Gray defeat Republican Rand Paul.

The Super PAC’s spokesman, Jared Smith, wouldn’t say how much money it has on hand or plans to raise. “I’m not really ready to get into budget requirements and how much we’re going to spend. I can just tell you we’re going to have a very healthy paid media campaign statewide across Kentucky that includes TV ads.”

Smith said the Kentucky Senate race is currently the group’s sole focus.

"Almost positive this is the only race that we will play in this year. Kentucky Moving Forward does expect to be around in other races to come down the line."

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Donald Trump has provided the political world with many moving moments over the past year, but none quite like the whiplash mood swing between his daytime and nighttime performances in Mexico City and Phoenix on Wednesday.

In the daylight hours, Trump struck his most presidential pose to date with a solemn (if somewhat grumpy) reading of prepared remarks at a news conference alongside Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto. That somber event, inside the Mexican presidential residence, epitomized the more moderate image Trump has pursued on immigration issues over the past ten days.

But as night fell in Phoenix, back in the U.S.A., Trump mounted the stage in prime time and quickly caught fire. He poured forth an hour-long harangue against all things alien, highlighting the lurid crimes of a handful of illegal immigrants as if to define the character of millions. He also promised to build "a beautiful wall" across the entire U.S.-Mexico border and create a "deportation task force" that would eventually guarantee that "the bad ones are gone."

Read: NPR Fact Checks Donald Trump's Speech on Immigration

On the subject of the wall, Trump departed from his script to assure his listeners that Mexico would indeed pay for it – adding, "They may not know it yet, but they will." In so doing, he as much as acknowledged that Peña Nieto had told him something different earlier in the day.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Hours before he is slated to make a major policy speech on immigration Wednesday in Phoenix, Donald Trump is making a bold move — he will be meeting with Mexico's president.

He tweeted the news late Tuesday night:

"I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Peña Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow."

The Washington Post first reported that Trump was considering the move and could be flying to Mexico City to meet with Peña Nieto:

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