Political news

Kentucky's major party nominees for lieutenant governor clashed over a sexual harassment scandal in their first televised debate.

Democratic nominee Sannie Overly denounced "false attacks" from Republican Matt Bevin that she turned her back on the female state workers who said they were sexually harassed by a former Democratic state lawmaker. Overly said both she and Democratic nominee for governor Jack Conway condemned the behavior and would work to change the culture in Frankfort.

Republican nominee Jenean Hampton criticized Overly for attempting to seal her testimony during the lawsuit, suggesting Overly was trying to hide something.

For the first time, two women are the major party nominees for lieutenant governor in the same election. Independent candidate Drew Curtis' running mate Heather Curtis was not invited to the debate.

Arnold Says in Deposition he 'Spanked' Overly's Knee

Sep 24, 2015
Ryland Barton

A former lawmaker who was sued for sexual harassment said in a deposition that he "spanked the knee" of a female lawmaker now running for lieutenant governor and that she told him if he did it again, "she'd knock me out."

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represented two female legislative staffers who sued former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold, released Arnold's deposition Wednesday.

Rep. Sannie Overly, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, and former Legislative Research Commission director Robert Sherman had asked that their video depositions not be released. Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate denied the motions and noted that Overly was never deposed.

Arnold said in the deposition he couldn't recall ever sexually harassing the two legislative staffers.

The complaint was settled this summer for $400,000 from the Kentucky legislature.

Office of Florida Governor Rick Scott

The Governor of Florida is visiting the commonwealth this week, but his Kentucky counterpart isn’t rolling out the welcome mat. Rick Scott is trying to convince Kentucky business to expand or relocate to the Sunshine State.

In visits to Lexington and Louisville, Governor Scott touted Florida as a right-to-work state with no personal income tax.  Scott is using a familiar tactic.  As CEO of Columbia\HCA, he relocated the company’s headquarters from Louisville to Nashville in the 1990s after criticizing Kentucky’s tax code. 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says Scott’s recruitment trip is a waste of time.

"What Governor Scott needs to realize is that last year Kentucky placed first in the nation for job creation per capita, not Florida, Kentucky," Beshear told WKU Public Radio.  "That tells us all we need to know about our business climate."

In Lexington Tuesday, Scott announced that an aerospace company in Hebron is expanding to create 40 jobs in Florida. 

Beshear calls the trip political, noting that Scott is on the Republican Governor’s Association executive committee and is trying to influence Kentucky’s gubernatorial election. 

Besides Kentucky, Scott has visited four other states this year, all with Democratic governors.

McConnell Plans Vote on Averting Government Shutdown

Sep 22, 2015

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has set up a showdown vote for Thursday on a bill financing government agencies through Dec. 11 but also blocking Planned Parenthood's federal funds for a year. The Kentucky Republican's move seems aimed at ultimately averting a partial federal shutdown on Oct. 1.

Senate Democrats have already blocked the GOP from cutting Planned Parenthood's money, and seem likely to derail McConnell's bill on Thursday. He would then be expected to schedule a later Senate vote financing the government without blocking Planned Parenthood's funds.

Planned Parenthood is under attack from conservatives for its procurement of fetal tissue for scientific research. Conservatives' insistence on cutting the organization's money has left House GOP leaders so far unable to figure out how to pass legislation averting a shutdown.


Friday is the deadline for U.S. Senator Rand Paul to give the Republican Party of Kentucky $250,000 to help offset the costs of a presidential caucus in March.

The caucus will provide a way for Paul to seek re-election to the Senate and run for the White House simultaneously next year. 

However, Geoffrey Skelley, a political analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says Paul’s performance in the presidential polls and fundraising efforts have been on the decline.

"Perhaps he should turn his focus to his Senate seat entirely, but I think it's unlikely he'll drop out," remarked Skelley.  "If indeed he does fork over the money for the caucus, I'll think he'll stick it out."

If the party doesn’t receive the money, which would only partially cover the cost of the caucus, Republicans will be part of the state’s regular primary in May.

Republican state Sen. Julie Raque Adams has launched an organization to recruit and train women to run for public office.

Adams announced that she will serve as executive director of Kentucky Strong, which has the backing of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Adams cited the lack of women elected to public office in the state, citing data that showed Kentucky is near the bottom nationally in the percentage of women elected to its legislature.

McConnell said in a statement that women will get the training they need to run and win elections.

A similar organization called Emerge Kentucky recruits women to run for office as Democrats.

Seven Republican Kentucky House members are asking the state to look into how taxpayer funds are used by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

The lawmakers have mailed the state Auditor and Treasurer a letter asking for an audit of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

According to a statement from the Cabinet, health departments in Louisville and Lexington received about $330,000 in federal funds this fiscal year for Planned Parenthood services.

Republican Representative Tim Moore of Hardin County says if the state refuses to audit the group’s funding, he’ll sponsor a bill to halt all taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood.

"The General Assembly, to our understanding, has never approved that kind of expenditure that would support Planned Parenthood, and that has not been forthcoming," Moore told WKU Public Radio.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says all public funds that support Planned Parenthood were approved by lawmakers in the last two-year budget.

The GOP request for an audit comes as abortion opponents continue to criticize Planned Parenthood’s family planning services. The group says those services are vital for low-income women, and points out federal law prohibits taxpayer money to fund abortions.

Kentucky GOP Chairman says Jeb Bush Will Visit Louisville

Sep 15, 2015
Flickr/Creative Commons/iprimages

Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson says Jeb Bush will visit Louisville later this month.

Robertson told The Courier-Journal that the Republican presidential candidate will attend an afternoon fundraising reception at a private residence on Sept. 24. The event will benefit the state Republican party.

Robertson said the visit shows the party's central committee made a good decision when it voted to select Kentucky's Republican presidential delegate next year during caucuses on March 5 instead of the traditional May primary.

The change was initiated by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and allows him to run for president and re-election to his Senate seat at the same time without violating a law that bans candidates from appearing on a ballot twice in the same election.

Robertson said he expects the change to bring "a great number of presidential hopefuls" to Kentucky.

A Kentucky city has agreed to drop its lawsuit challenging the state auditor's authority to do special examinations of cities.

Assistant Auditor Libby Carlin says Auditor Adam Edelen's office will bill Somerset $50,000 to cover the costs of doing the exam that led to the suit.

The exam cited a number of problems in city financial and personnel practices.

Those problems included failing to get bids as required for some work, not having contracts in place for special deals on city natural gas and failing to follow the pay and job-classification plan.

Edelen's office referred findings to the state attorney general's office and other agencies.

Both sides issued a short statement Friday saying they had resolved the dispute.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is appearing in a pair of TV ads for his son as he seeks to follow his father's path by becoming Kentucky's attorney general.

Andy Beshear's campaign began airing the ads Monday on broadcast TV statewide. One ad features Andy Beshear's wife talking about her husband's plan to toughen penalties for child abusers, adding that he is "honest and caring like his dad."

Another ad shows Steve Beshear and his wife Jane walking hand in hand while Andy Beshear says his parents taught him family values. Andy Beshear then says "I'll stand up for Kentucky, just like my dad."

Steve Beshear was attorney general from 1979 to 1983. Polls show he is popular with voters as he prepares to leave office in December. He cannot seek re-election because of term limits.