Politics

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Trump Meets with Tennessee Senator Bob Corker

May 23, 2016
Office of Senator Bob Corker

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has met with Bob Corker in New York.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting Monday, Corker, the U.S. senator from Tennessee, said he has no knowledge of whether he's being considered for Trump's running mate or for a Cabinet position should Trump win the general election.

"I have no reason whatsoever to believe I am being considered for a position like that," Corker told reporters who pressed him about various possible positions.

Corker is currently the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

No one from Trump's campaign immediately responded to a request for comment on the meeting with Corker.

Alix Mattingly, WFPL News

News of the $815,741 paid last year to retired Kentucky Community & Technical College System President Michael McCall has drawn expressions of outrage from lawmakers, college employees, citizens and the state’s secretary of education.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration said Thursday it will conduct a comprehensive review of KCTCS, which announced the elimination of 506 jobs earlier this week. The review will be done by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet under Secretary Hal Heiner and the state’s Council on Postsecondary Education.

As reported Thursday by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, McCall retired Jan. 15, 2015, but was given a consulting contract that paid him $300,965 till year-end. KCTCS also gave him $352,066 for 261 unused vacation days and a $124,249 deferred incentive payout.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL News

Despite his failed presidential run, Sen. Rand Paul easily won the Republican nomination for reelection to his Senate seat last week.

Paul said he would support his former rival in the presidential race — Donald Trump — in the likely case that the New York businessman is the party’s nominee. But during an interview at last week’s NRA conference in Louisville, Paul said Trump “has a ways to go” to unite the Republican Party behind him.

“But I think he’s heading in the right direction,” Paul added.

Trump is the only candidate remaining in the Republican nominating contest. He’s been working to unite GOP leaders who have been skeptical of his candidacy and conservative credentials.

Some Republicans have questioned Trump’s support of gun rights; he worked to solidify his qualifications at the Louisville NRA event, calling for the elimination of gun-free zones and bashing likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s record on guns.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL News

During a speech at the National Rifle Association convention in Louisville on Friday, Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton the most “anti-gun” candidate to ever run for president.

Trump said that Clinton wants to “abolish” the Second Amendment and, if elected, would appoint anti-gun Supreme Court justices.

“The Second Amendment is under a threat like never before,” he said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office.”

Clinton has never called for abolishing the Second Amendment but has pushed for increased background checks and closing the “gun show loophole.”

Trump called for the elimination of gun-free zones, saying that if concert-goers had been armed during November attacks on the Bataclan Theater in Paris, not as many people would have died.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Top Republicans including Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Matt Bevin will all speak at the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Louisville Friday.

In a conference call on Thursday, Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, criticized Trump’s attendance at the event, saying that he was “one of the most incredible panderers.”

“Pandering to the worst instincts of America — xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment, misogyny — this is why I think he is singularly unqualified to be president of the United States,” Yarmuth said. “I hope that during his appearance in Louisville there is an enormous outpouring of opposition.”

The NRA convention is expected to draw more than 70,000 people over the weekend and features 8,000 exhibitors.

KRS

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin used state police officers to prevent the ousted chairman of the retirement system board from participating in a meeting Thursday.

Governor Matt Bevin removed chairman Thomas Elliott from the board last month.

But Elliott had refused to vacate his seat, saying Bevin could not remove him before his term expires.

Elliott attended Thursday's board meeting, but sat in the audience while state police officers stood nearby.

Elliot said the governor's office told him he would be arrested and charged with disrupting a public meeting if he participated.

Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said Elliot was not threatened with arrest. She said he was reminded he is not a board member and would be disrupting the meeting if he tried to participate, which is a misdemeanor under state law.

Judge Rules Bevin Can Cut College, University Budgets

May 19, 2016
WFPL News

A Kentucky judge has ruled Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the approval of the state legislature.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate says two state laws allow Bevin to reduce allotments for public colleges and universities. Wingate ruled while the governor’s powers are usually confined to the state constitution, the legislature can give the governor additional powers by passing laws. He said Bevin’s cuts of nearly $18 million to colleges and universities this year are not improper.

Bevin proposed the cuts in January. The state legislature did not approve them. Bevin ordered the cuts anyway. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him.

Wingate ordered Bevin to leave the $18 million alone until the case has been resolved.

In a statement, Beshear said his office would appeal.

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says he supports the idea of having women register for a potential military draft.

The Courier-Journal reports Republican Mitch McConnell said he thinks it would be appropriate, given that women in the military are already performing many different functions.

The Selective Service System currently registers men ages 18 to 25 only.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have recently passed defense policy bills that include  a registration requirement for women.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said adding women to the Selective Service list would help achieve gender equality for women in the military.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is questioning the need for a special legislative session related to the bathroom use of transgender public school students.

Some Republican state lawmakers have called for a special session after a directive issued by President Barack Obama's administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Haslam told reporters Wednesday that it's unclear what the strategy or purpose of a special session would be. GOP lawmakers have engaged in a letter-writing campaign since the Obama directive was issued, demanding that the state join lawsuits challenging their implementation.

A Tennessee  bill seeking to require students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates was withdrawn in the waning days of the legislative session last month.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

A Kentucky attorney general's advisory opinion says the governor isn't allowed to remove a trustee from the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems before the trustee's term has expired.

The opinion was requested by the systems' executive director, William A. Thielen, after Gov. Matt Bevin removed board Chairman Thomas K. Elliott last month. Elliott's term didn't expire until 2019. After removing Elliott, Bevin appointed Madisonville dermatologist William F. Smith to replace him.

The attorney general's opinion, issued Tuesday, also said Smith isn't qualified as a professional with 10 years of experience in public or private finances.

Bevin's press secretary, Amanda Stamper, said in a news release that the governor's office believes Smith is qualified to serve on the board. The release also said the attorney general's opinion differs from state Supreme Court precedent and a previous attorney general's opinion.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has appointed a special prosecutor to handle the case against his former deputy.

Former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge last month. Last week, Beshear announced he would file state charges against Longmeyer. At first, Beshear said he would prosecute the case himself. But Thursday he said he would hand the case to Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland.

Cleveland said the attorney general's office asked him to take the case on Wednesday, citing a conflict of interest.

Longmeyer pleaded guilty to using his influence as the state Personnel Cabinet secretary to steer contracts to a public relations firm in exchange for kickbacks. He also directed some of that money to Beshear's 2015 campaign for attorney general.

Lisa Autry

When Kentucky voters head to the polls Tuesday, May 17, for the sstate's primary election, they’ll help choose the Democratic presidential nominee. 

While Hillary Clinton is ahead in the delegate count, she doesn’t have enough to lock up the nomination yet. Both Clinton and Sanders are battling for Kentucky’s 60 delegates at stake. 

On a weekday afternoon, Michelle Thomas and a few of her girlfriends get together at Thomas’ Bowling Green home, which has turned into a makeshift campaign headquarters for Hillary Clinton.

“We have yard signs and some bumper stickers and buttons," Thomas said.

The ladies were phone banking, trying to drum up support for Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s primary.  It was the middle of the day and Janet Gouvas has been getting lots of answering machines.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Gov. Matt Bevin, saying that he improperly vetoed several bills passed during this year’s legislative session.

Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, questioned the validity of vetoes to six bills, including line-item vetoes to the state budget, which he says were improperly delivered and signed.

He also says Bevin violated the constitution by not including “veto messages” that explain the rationale for several line-item vetoes to the state budget.

“The constitution clearly states that the message shall be accompanied with the veto so that people understand why or what his reasoning was when vetoing that particular part or parts of the appropriation bill,” he said.

If Stumbo’s suit is successful, Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget would be reversed, meaning free preschool would be expanded from 160 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and $840,000 would be set aside for the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation and $7.5 million for indigent care in Jefferson County.

Richie Farmer Files for Bankruptcy

May 9, 2016

Former state agriculture commissioner and University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer, who went to prison for violating state ethics and campaign finance laws, has filed for bankruptcy.

Farmer filed a Chapter 7 petition May 4 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Farmer indicated he is unemployed and living on $194 in monthly food stamps. The petition also noted that his parents give him an estimated $400 each month.

The petition listed assets of about $24,000, most of it in his state pension, and liabilities of about $386,000.

Farmer left a federal prison in West Virginia in December after serving a 27-month sentence for misappropriating government resources while in office, including having state workers build a basketball court at his house.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky's Democratic attorney general, Andy Beshear, says he will prosecute his former chief deputy in state court following his guilty plea to federal bribery charges.

Newly released court documents show that former Personnel Cabinet Secretary Tim Longmeyer, who pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge, arranged for illegal campaign donations to Beshear, who was elected attorney general, and Jack Conway, who lost his bid to become governor.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a judge unsealed the records Tuesday at the newspaper's request.

After he won the election, Beshear hired Longmeyer as deputy attorney general. Longmeyer resigned a few days before the federal charges became public.

Beshear noted federal authorities have said no political candidates were aware of Longmeyer's illegal activities. Beshear said he would follow the same process that resulted in the prosecution of former Republican Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who went to prison for violating state ethics and campaign finance laws.

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