By Jack Brammer firstname.lastname@example.org WINCHESTER — State Senate candidate Ralph Alvarado’s defamation lawsuit against his Democratic opponent, state Senate Minority Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, has to wait another day for a hearing. A hearing was scheduled Wednesday afternoon before Clark Circuit Judge Jean Logue to hear Alvarado’s request that Palmer’s campaign stop a TV ad […]
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANFKORT — A new statewide poll shows a majority of Kentucky registered voters supports reforms in personal injury lawsuits.
The poll, commissioned by the non-partisan Partnership for Commonsense Justice, was conducted Oct. 13-17 among 500 registered voters. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points and its partisan breakdown is 39 percent Republican, 54 percent Democrat and 6 percent independent.
“Kentucky’s legal system is fraught with problems that put our Commonwealth at a severe competitive disadvantage with surrounding states and contributes to our well-known health care provider shortage. It has become increasingly difficult for Kentucky businesses and caregivers to operate when hesitancy from our lawmakers to enact meaningful legal reform and a bias toward personal injury lawyers has been the pervasive policy for decades,”said Dave Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Some highlights from the poll include:
*A majority of Republicans and Democrats are more likely to vote for a candidate favoring legal reforms.
Seventy-six of Kentuckians believe that “Kentucky’s medical malpractice climate increases health care costs for consumers and raises liability insurance premiums of health care providers.”
*Sevent-seven percent of voters believe that the Commonwealth “needs to reform the state’s legal climate to enhance our economic competitiveness with other states.”
For more information on the poll, go to KYcommonsense.org.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Kentucky State Police are offering a reward of up to $2,500 to attack a crime they say is costing taxpayers millions of dollars – theft of copper wire from highway lighting systems.
“The crime of copper wire theft from lights that illuminate our roadways is literally highway robbery of Kentucky drivers,” state police Major Mike Crawford said Monday in a release. “This type of theft results in damage that far exceeds the salvage value of the wire.”
Nancy Albright, deputy state highway engineer in charge of operations and maintenance, said such copper thieves have caused at least $2 million in damages in the last four years.
So far this year, the thieves have pillaged entrance and exit ramp lights on Kentucky interstate highways at least 37 times, she said.
She also expressed concern that motoristsmay be left in the dark on the highway when such damage occurs.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is running what is “likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year,” according to Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact-checker.
After dissecting a new ad from Grimes, in which she looks at the camera and blames U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the shuttering of half of the Big Sandy power plant in Louisa, Kessler wrote that Grimes “should be ashamed of herself.”
“They are shutting down half the plant and laying off their workers because Mitch McConnell didn’t fight to get the scrubbers it needs to reduce coal emissions,” Grimes says in the ad. “Instead, Mitch and his wife pocketed $600,000 from enemies of coal, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”
Kessler said the ad is “especially noteworthy” because Grimes repeats a claim that The Washington Post has already given Four Pinocchios, the equivalent of a false rating.
That is a reference to Grimes’ claim that McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, was paid $600,000 from enemies of coal.
“Citing a $600,000 number from ‘enemies of coal’ is especially silly, as it mostly involves money from a bank that continues to finance coal companies,” Kessler wrote.
He then goes on to give another Four Pinocchios rating to Grimes latest ad, calling Grimes’ claim that McConnell is to blame for the power plant’s woes “nonsense.”
“First, it’s unclear why a senator would be seeking to provide scrubbers to an investor-owned company,” Kessler wrote. “Second, going the scrubber route would have jacked up utility rates for what is already one of the poorest parts of the state.”
The McConnell campaign, which has also run afoul of the Post’s fact-checking unit, was quick to seize on the ad, said that Grimes’ decision to look into the camera and make debunked claims “raises serious character questions.”
Kessler concludes his fact-check with this: “We realize that the game of politics is sometimes played rough in Kentucky, but this ad is beyond the pale. Indeed, it is likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year. Grimes should be ashamed of herself.”
Kessler has fact-checked two other ads in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race this month.
One is the previously-mentioned Four Pinocchio ruling on Grimes’ claim that “Mitch McConnell doesn’t want you to know is that he and his wife personally took $600,000 from anti-coal groups, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-coal foundation.”
In the other, Kessler gives Three Pinocchios, the equivalent of a mostly-false rating, to McConnell’s claim that Kynect, Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, is just a website that could continue if the federal health law were repealed.
McConnell’s statements on the subject are “a bit slick and misleading,” Kessler wrote. “If he wants to rip out Obamacare ‘root and branch,’ then he has to explain what he would plant in the health-insurance garden instead. Otherwise his assurances on the future have little credibility.”
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has refused seven times in the past seven days to say whether or not she voted for President Barack Obama for president.
Grimes was asked three times by a Herald-Leader reporter after an event on Oct. 2 if she voted for Obama, ignoring the question and turning her back on the reporter asking it.
On Thursday, Grimes refused four times to tell The Courier-Journal’s editorial board if she voted for Obama.
“You know, this election, it isn’t about the president,” Grimes said when first asked if she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
After being asked the third time, Grimes responded: “I was actually a delegate for Hillary Clinton, and I think that Kentuckians know I’m a Clinton Democrat through and through. I respect the sanctity of the ballot box, and I know that the members of this editorial board do as well.”
At that point, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board said: “So you’re not going to answer?”
FRANKFORT — In their efforts to take over the state House this year, Republicans have lost a candidate.
Mark Wilson of Louisville has withdrawn from the race against Democratic incumbent Jeffery Donahue of Fairdale in the 37th House District in south-central Jefferson County.
Wilson could not be reached for comment but Jefferson County GOP Chairman Nathan Haney said Thursday that Wilson expected to come off military active duty at the end of this year but recently learned that he would not.
“The military had other orders for him that would prohibit him from being in the legislature,” Haney said.
Donahue joined the House last year.
Reublicans hope to gain control of the state House for the first time since 1921 at the Nov. 4 polls. Democrats now control the chamber with 54 members, compared to 46 for Republicans.
By Jack Brammer
A memorial service in Lexington has been scheduled for Larry Van Hoose, a gubernatorial press secretary, aide to congressmen and director of the state Republican Party who died last month in Cape Coral, Fla. He was 76.
The service will be Nov. 1 at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home at 3421 Harrodsburg Road.
Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. and a memorial program will start at 10:30 a.m.
Van Hoose, after working as a stringer for Sports Illustrated, was press secretary and aide for Republican Louie B. Nunn, who was governor from 1967 to 1971.
After working in the Nunn administration, Van Hoose was executive director of the Kentucky Republican Party before becoming chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins of Lexington. He later worked for other Republican congressmen, including Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Martin Hoke of Ohio and J.D. Hayworth of Arizona.
Van Hoose was preceded in death by his wife Martelle. He is survived by two sons, Todd and Howard, and two grandchildren.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s campaign for governor raised $397,539 in the last three months, bringing his total fundraising to about $1.15 million since entering the Democratic primary earlier this year.
Conway’s campaign also reported late Monday that it had about $1 million on hand.
“Great results for two straight reporting periods show the strength of our campaign and that we are uniting Democrats behind our ticket for the 2015 governor’s race,” Conway said in a statement.
Conway said he and his running, state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, “remain focused on the Kentucky House races and Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign for U.S. Senate” this fall.
He added: “Sannie and I will begin the process of building out our campaign after the November elections.”
Conway’s campaign noted that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, as an incumbent in 2009, raised a little more than $1 million during his first two reporting periods and had $784,054 on hand.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – A national group focused on electing Republican state legislators has started sending out hard-hitting mailers to help the GOP try to gain control of the Kentucky House for the first time since 1921.
Jill Bader, communications director for the Republican State Leadership Committee, said in an email Monday that the group has “consistently named the Kentucky House as top of our targets for a pick up this year.”
Republicans now control 60 of 99 legislative chambers in the country, including the Kentucky Senate.
Bader also said the RSLC, based in Washington, D.C., has begun “a significant six-figure multi-platform independent expenditure, starting with mail, that began this weekend in support of gaining the House majority” in Kentucky.
Democrats now control the Kentucky House with 54 members, compared to 46 for Republicans.
The RSLC has spent more than $1 million on legislative races in Kentucky since 2008. It spent more than $400,000 in Kentucky during the 2010 election cycle and more than $355,000 in 2012. The group spent more than $200,000 in Kentucky last year and expects to top its previous spending record this year.
The first two mail pieces from the RSLC in Kentucky House races this fall involve two tough races in Western Kentucky.
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear is suggesting that Kentuckians curb domestic violence by donating their used cell phones and accessories.
Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and his wife, Madeline Abramson, kicked off a monthlong drive Wednesday to collect the old phones.
Verizon Wireless has agreed to turn the devices into a cash grant for WorkSafe, a collobarative program of the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Commission on Women and The Mary Bryon Project, to provide domestic violence prevention training for businesses.
WorkSafe will distribute restored phones to domestic violence clients and give each up to 3,000 free minutes of usage.
At news conferences in Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, the Beshears and Abramsons said the drive will run Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.
Special collection boxes marked HopeLine will be available at 18 state agencies throughout the state, at University of Kentucky sororities and Verizon stores. Phones from any provider will be accepted.
So far this year, Verizon has given grants of more than $108,000 for domestic violence prevention in Kentucky.