Political news

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin won’t say whether he plans to attend a private meeting hosted by the Kentucky Coal Association and representatives of the energy industry.

KCA President Bill Bissett said Monday that Bevin and Democratic candidate Jack Conway were invited to speak at the group’s annual meeting, which is scheduled for October.

Conway’s campaign told Kentucky Public Radio he would attend. But in an interview on Tuesday, Bevin refused to give a straight answer about whether he would go to the closed-door retreat.

“There’s things that are on my agenda and there’s things that are not on my agenda, and things that will be made aware to the outside world and some that won’t,” Bevin said when asked if he would attend.

In June, Bevin and Conway both appeared at a private event in Virginia attended by luminaries of the nation’s coal industry. The media was not made aware of that event, where the two candidates took questions from Bissett and audience members and sparred with one another, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Coal Association is under fire for again planning a closed-door meeting with the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates.

KCA President Bill Bissett told CN2 last week that the major party candidates for Kentucky governor — Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway — would be speaking during private events at the association’s annual meeting in October.

This would be the second private meeting between energy industry representatives and the state’s leading gubernatorial candidates. Bissett moderated a secret debate this summer in Virginia between Conway and Bevin before coal industry leaders.

The closed-door meetings have drawn criticism from media outlets. In a recent column, Courier-Journal political reporter Joseph Gerth wrote that open discussions are especially important in the close gubernatorial election “because neither of the candidates has been terribly accessible.”


Republican Rand Paul says he has contributed $250,000 and pledged another $200,000 to pay for a proposed GOP presidential caucus in his home state of Kentucky next year.

State GOP officials are scheduled to vote Saturday on rules for the proposed March 5 caucus.

The state party's proposed switch from a primary to a caucus would allow Paul to run for president and re-election to his U.S. Senate seat simultaneously without violating a state law banning candidates from appearing on the ballot twice.

In a letter to party officials, Paul says he transferred $250,000 to a state GOP account. He pledged to raise or transfer another $200,000. He says the caucus will cost an estimated $400,000 to $500,000.

More money would come from filing fees paid by candidates.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Paul is sticking to his commitment to defray caucus costs. McConnell has endorsed the caucus.

Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin have agreed to participate in a televised debate next month in Louisville.

The Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV will sponsor the debate, along with Bellarmine University, where the hour-long event will be held at 7 p.m. EDT Sept. 25.

The two television stations will televise the debate live, and all four media partners will live-stream it on their websites. Other stations outside the Louisville and Lexington television markets may be included in the live broadcast.

A WHAS representative will moderate, with one questioner each from the other three media partners.

The debate will take place in the university's Cralle Theater, and about 300 guests will be invited to attend

State Treasurer to Seek Louisville Judge Seat

Aug 12, 2015

Outgoing Democratic state Treasurer Todd Hollenbach has filed to run for district court judge in Jefferson County.

Hollenbach filed paperwork with the secretary of state's office on Tuesday. The seat in the 30th judicial district of Jefferson County became vacant when Judge Michele Stengel retired in May. Hollenbach is the 22nd person to file for the office.

The 55-year-old is wrapping up his second term as state treasurer and cannot seek re-election because of term limits. His political options were limited after Jack Conway locked up most of the support for the Democratic nomination for governor while Gov. Steve Beshear's son Andy Beshear did the same thing for the attorney general nomination.

Hollenbach is an attorney who ran for judge in 2004 but came in second to Anne Haynie.

Kentucky News Network

A judge is upholding a warrant allowing investigators to search the email account of an indicted political operative who has worked for Rand Paul, Ron Paul and Mitch McConnell.

Magistrate Judge Helen Adams rejected a request Monday by Jesse Benton to quash a warrant ordering Google Inc. to turn over the contents of his Gmail account.

The decision means the government will get access to thousands of emails that Benton sent and received dating back to 2011.

Benton had argued the warrant was overly broad and violated his privacy. His attorney argued the government was conducting a "fishing expedition."

Benton and two other aides to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign were indicted last week, accused of conspiring to buy the support of a state senator before that year's Iowa caucuses.


If Sen. Rand Paul wants a presidential caucus in Kentucky, state Republican Party leaders want to see the money to pay for it upfront.

Scott Lasley, chair of a special committee created by the Republican Party of Kentucky, said one of the latest conditions for approval of a state party rule change is that money for a caucus be secured before the GOP central committee decides the matter on Aug. 22.

Earlier this year, Paul asked state Republicans to consider a caucus instead of a primary in 2016.

The state’s major political parties have traditionally held primary elections for president. But a state law prohibits candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. A presidential caucus would allow Paul to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate while also seeking home state support for his presidential campaign.

Paul’s campaign has said it would fund the caucus, which Lasley expects to cost $500,000. But as the Kentucky GOP’s central committee mulls over a draft plan sent out last week, they want more assurances.

“The deal is that the money is supposed to be there,” Lasley said. “If it’s not there, I think there’s going to be problems.”

Republicans leaders in Kentucky will vote later this month on a proposal to change the state’s presidential primary to a caucus. 

State law prohibits a candidate from appearing on the ballot for more than one office. The change would allow Rand Paul to run for president and for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat in 2016. 

Warren County Republican Party Chairman Scott Lasley helped write the proposal that would let Kentucky Republicans to hold a presidential caucus in early March.  He says the move to a caucus is not about giving Rand Paul special treatment.

"When we have a presidential primary in May, it generally doesn't attract any attention, and so the real logic for doing this is to become relevant in the nomination process," Lasley told WKU Public Radio.  "There's a few people who might be voting either for or against it strictly based on how they feel about Rand Paul, but I think most members of the central committee will approach it as what's best for the party."

Lasley says if going to a caucus brings several presidential contenders to Kentucky to campaign, then the change will be worthwhile. 

The proposal would not just apply to the 2016 election.  It gives party leaders the option of holding presidential caucuses in future years, as well.  Despite the cost involved and concerns over absentee and military voting, Lasley says a caucus next year is feasible. 

The state Republican Party’s central committee will vote on the proposal on August 22.

If you missed the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 race Thursday evening, our friends at It's All Politics have wall-to-wall coverage. If you want a quickie, here's a 100-word recap — and video clip — of what happened:

Kentucky's Republican presidential caucus would be March 5 and candidates would only need 5 percent of the vote to qualify for delegates under proposed rule changes. The proposal comes as the state seeks to woo the large field of contenders and their millions of dollars amid Rand Paul's struggling campaign.

The proposed rules would also allow Paul to run for president and re-election to his U.S. Senate seat without violating a state law banning candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.

The state party's central committee is scheduled to vote whether to approve the new rules on Aug. 22. Republican Party state chairman Steve Robertson said the caucus would cost about $500,000. He said he's not sure how the party would pay for it.