4:20 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Newly Elected Kentucky Lawmaker Says She Won't Let Job Conflict with Legislative Duties

Suzanne Miles
Credit Kentucky Republican Party

Kentucky’s newest House member plans to take a leave of absence from her job while the legislature is in session. 

It’s not uncommon for state lawmakers to continue working in their careers while the General Assembly is in session, but Republican Suzanne Miles doesn’t quite find herself in the same situation. 

Miles is the Owensboro field representative for 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie.  She plans to go on unpaid leave to avoid a conflict of interest.

“Ethically and morally, I would not be accepting two checks during the same time period," says Miles.  "We’ve had a lot of discussion about that.”

Miles won a special election this week for state representative, replacing Democrat John Arnold who resigned amid sexual harassment accusations. 

The 7th District House seat covers Union and parts of Henderson and Daviess counties.

3:54 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Special Kentucky House Committee Looking into Harrassment Claims Ending Operations

After nearly four months of meetings and without interviewing a single witness or examining any evidence, the special House committee tasked with investigating claims of sexual harassment against a former state lawmaker voted Thursday afternoon to end its operations.

This summer, female staffers with the Legislative Research Commission say former Rep. John Arnold, a Democrat from Sturgis, sexually harassed and assaulted them.

Democratic committee chair Jeff Donohue of Louisville made the motion to disband the panel. He cited an opinion drafted by legal counsel that said lawmakers could not discipline Arnold because he resigned in September.

“Despite the committee’s lack of jurisdiction and as a member of the House of Representatives, I’d like to work with my colleagues to develop stronger policies and laws to prevent sexual harassment. And that is what I plan to do. And I thank you all for your time today.”

Donohue says he doesn't know how much the committee has cost taxpayers.

9:35 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Ethics Hearing for Former Kentucky Lawmaker Postponed

John Arnold
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

The Legislative Ethics Commission has postponed a hearing that had been set for Thursday in the case of a former lawmaker accused of sexually harassing Capitol staffers.

Former state representative John Arnold of Sturgis has been rescheduled to appear before the ethics panel on Feb. 25.

Commission Chairman George Troutman said in a written order last week that the delay will allow time for Arnold to undergo a neurological exam that could help determine whether he's competent to participate in his defense and whether he's competent to testify.

Arnold resigned from the Legislature in September after the sexual harassment allegations were made public. Legislative staffers Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper say Arnold had touched them inappropriately and made vulgar comments. A third woman also has filed a complaint.

9:01 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Kentucky House Speaker Not Worried About GOP Gains

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky LRC

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo doesn't think this week's Republican victory in a special election is a sign of waning Democratic power in the chamber.

Republican Suzanne Miles bested Democratic challenger Kim Humphrey by about a hundred votes in a special election to fill a vacancy in West Kentucky’s 7th District.

Miles’ victory erodes Democrats’ majority in the House down to 54 seats against the Republicans’ 46. And Stumbo says he doesn’t think any House Democrats will change parties to curry favor with a potential GOP majority.

“We might have a Republican or two that flips, but I don’t think you’re gonna see any Democrats that do it … And we congratulate Ms. Miles and look forward to serving with her. It’s [sic] a close race, hundred votes or so … and I expect that, I expect that, I don’t think there’ll be any changes either way.”

The seventh district seat opened up after Democratic Rep. John Arnold resigned during a growing sexual harassment scandal. Arnold won re-election in 2012 by just five votes.

3:10 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Rand Paul's Father Says Son "Probably" Running for President in '16

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Someone close to Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator is predicting the Bowling Green Republican will run for President in 2016.

The statement comes from Ron Paul, the former Texas Congressman and father of Senator Rand Paul.

Speaking on CNN Monday, Ron Paul said he thought his son “probably” will run for the White House. Senator Rand Paul has been the subject of much speculation about a possible presidential bid, and has told several interviewers that he is actively considering such a run.

However, following a speech last Friday in Detroit, the freshman Senator said his wife, Kelly, is opposed to him running for president. Paul said his thoughts about being in the spotlight shift from week to week, adding “Sometimes you have a good week. The next week they pound you to death. You know, the haters and the hacks go after you.”

Paul recently faced criticism for using material in some of his speeches and newspaper editorials that were lifted—without attribution—from other sources. Paul said much of the negative attention was coming from, what he called, “haters”.

8:51 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Health Enrollment in Kentucky Climbs During Holiday Period

Enrollment through Kentucky's health benefits website has grown by more than 11,000 in a 10-day period starting Thanksgiving week.

Governor Steve Beshear's office says the technology team for the state's online health insurance marketplace was expecting an increase in traffic, applications and enrollments after Thanksgiving and increased capacity to prepare.

A news release from Beshear's office says the site enrolls about 1,000 Kentuckians a day.

The largest increase during the period from Nov. 26 to last Thursday was among people buying private health insurance plans. The state says nearly 4,000 people chose a new private insurance police, a 32 percent increase.

Nearly 72,000 people had enrolled in new health coverage as of last Thursday, including Medicaid and private insurance.

The exchange's website is www.kynect.ky.gov.

5:00 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Focus is Jobs for Candidates in Special Election for Western Kentucky House Seat

Suzanne Miles
Credit Kentucky Republican Party

The two women vying for a vacant seat in the Kentucky House both agree jobs are the foremost issue facing the 7th District that includes Union and portions of Henderson and Daviess counties.  How to create them is one way they differ from each other. 

Republican Suzanne Miles of Owensboro would vote for a right-to-work bill in the General Assembly.  Under right-to-work laws, employer cannot make the payment of union dues a condition of employment.  Miles believes having the law in Kentucky would remove barriers to job creation.

“I don’t feel like people should have to pay to work," remarks Miles.  "Our states north and south of us, Indiana and Tennessee, both are right to work states.  I do know that it makes a difference in those states from people that travel with their work.”

Miles has the endorsement of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  Her Democratic opponent Kim Humphrey of Morganfield is endorsed by the state AFL-CIO.  Humphrey is against Kentucky becoming a right-to-work state.

“What right-to-work takes away is the ability for wage earners to make a good living and for those folks to be able to organize if they wish to do that," says Humphrey.

If elected state representative, both Miles and Humphrey say they would work to create jobs and protect existing jobs in western Kentucky's coal industry. 

Both women are making their first political run.  The 43-year-old Miles is the Owensboro field representative for 2nd District Congressman Brett Guthrie.  Humphrey, 53, is a former banker and economic development official who now works for Riverview Coal in Union County.

The winner of Tuesday's special election will fill the seat of former House member John Arnold who resigned in September amid sexual harassment allegations.

10:12 am
Thu December 5, 2013

FEC Says 19 Contributors Made Excessive Donations to McConnell Re-Election Campaign

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

The Federal Election Commission says the re-election campaign of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell accepted “apparent excessive contributions” from a dozen individuals and seven political action committees. The claims were made in a preliminary review of the campaign’s disclosure report covering the months of July, August, and September.

The Courier-Journal reports the FEC has told the McConnell campaign that the contributions in question appear to exceed the legal limits.

Under campaign finance law, an individual can give up to $2,600 per election, meaning a person could actually give $5,200 to campaign, with half designated for the primary, and the other half going to the general election.

In each of the dozen cases involving individuals cited by the FEC, the contributors gave the McConnell campaign multiple donations dating back as far as 2009. The most recent donations made last quarter pushed those contributors over the legal limit.

Some of the political action committees cited by the FEC as having made excessive donations include those run by the American Health Care Association, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and Clear Channel.

You can read the FEC letter sent to the McConnell re-election campaign here.

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4:00 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Kentucky Lawmaker to Be Deposed Over Retaliation Accusations

A Franklin Circuit Court Judge will order depositions in a lawsuit against a Kentucky lawmaker.

Judge Thomas Wingate will order Rep. Will Coursey, a Democrat from Symsonia, to provide a deposition in the suit brought against him by Nicole Cusic.

Cusic is an employee of the Legislative Research Commission who has alleged Coursey and former LRC director Bobby Sherman retaliated against her after she complained to her superiors that Coursey was allegedly behaving inappropriately with female interns.

Coursey has filed a counter-motion. It accuses Cusic of slander and defamation. Attorneys are waiting to see if it will be added to this case.

1:08 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Kentucky State Senate Candidate with History of Charges Leaves Race

Troy Brooks

A candidate for state senate in south central Kentucky has withdrawn from the race less than a week after announcing his bid. 

Troy Brooks had filed to run against Senator Mike Wilson of Bowling Green in the Republican primary. That was last Monday, and by Friday, he had withdrawn from the race.  His past was likely the reason. 

The Daily News first reported that the former attorney, now businessman, was indicted in 2005 on charges of theft and disbarred in Tennessee.  The case arose from the misappropriation of about $185,000 from clients.  Brooks did not return multiple calls from WKU Public Radio.

According to a 2008 judgment from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Brooks pleaded guilty to four charges of theft over $10,000, while some other charges were dismissed.  Brooks, however, told the newspaper he did not plead guilty and that his record was expunged.  He explained that the charges were not the result of theft, but misunderstandings and disputes over fees. 

“Our Republican Party does not need a hard fought or potentially divisive primary,” Brooks stated in a news release. “I will be supporting Senator Mike Wilson in his re-election efforts.”