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Jack Conway raises $750,000 in seven weeks for gubernatorial campaign

Attorney General Jack Conway, who is seeking re-election, touted his record at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. Photo by Pablo AlcalaBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Attorney General Jack Conway continued his effort to lock up the Democratic nomination in next year’s governor’s race with an overwhelming show of force, announcing Tuesday that his campaign has raised more than $750,000 since entering the race in early May.

Conway and his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly, reported having more than $700,000 in cash on hand.

While a number of other Democrats are considering a run for governor after this year’s elections are over, Conway has moved quickly to consolidate Democratic support, announcing his large fundraising haul after rolling out a series of major endorsements.

“Sannie and I are honored by the bipartisan support we’ve received from friends across Kentucky who believe in our vision of creating better jobs, building infrastructure and investing in early childhood and higher education,” Conway said in a statement. “We have a proven record of experience and following through on the commitments we’ve made to the people of this state. We are uniting Democrats and hard-working Kentuckians who believe that together we can build a better commonwealth to live, work and raise our families.”

When Conway first entered the race, a number of Democrats worried that his early entry might distract from the attention and resources Alison Lundergan Grimes will need to defeat U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this November.

In Tuesday’s news release, the campaign said it had held two fundraising events, “keeping the commitment to avoid fundraising conflicts with Alison Lundergan Grimes and the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus.”

No ‘Comment’ this weekend; ‘KY Tonight’ will discuss state budget

“Comment on Kentucky,” a public-affairs show of the Kentucky Educational Television network, will be preempted this weekend because of the Fourth of July.

On the Monday, July 7, edition of “Kentucky Tonight” at 8 p.m. on KET and at KET.org/live, host Bill Goodman and guests will discuss the state budget and tax reform.

Scheduled guests are state Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, chair of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee; state Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee; Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy; and Bryan Sunderland, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form at KET.org/kytonight. Viewers may also submit questions on Twitter @BillKET or on KET’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KET. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

“Kentucky Tonight” programs are archived online, made available via podcast, and rebroadcast on KET and KET KY. Archived programs, information about podcasts, and broadcast schedules are available at KET.org/kytonight.

“Kentucky Tonight” is a weekly KET production, produced by Deidre Clark. Bill Goodman is host and managing editor.

–Jack Brammer

Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking reappointment to Fish and Wildlife Commission

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT —A judge granted Senate President Robert Stivers’ request Friday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state Senate’s failure to vote on a reappointment to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd said in a four-page order that the court lacks the constitutional authority to direct the Senate on how to consider such nominations and nothing in the lawsuit filed by Campbellsville doctor Jim Angel supports any allegations that the Senate failed to follow its own rules.

Neither Angel nor his attorney, C. Thomas Hectus of Louisville, was immediately available to comment on Shepherd’s order.

Beshear calls for more investments in education

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear told a group of educators and students Tuesday that this year’s legislative session made strides in education “but we have a long way to go.”

At a reception in the Capitol put on by several education organizations called Kentucky Education Action Team to thank Beshear and the 2014 General Assembly, Beshear said he is thankful that lawmakers “overcame a tough budget and made significant investments in our schools and children.”

Former Rep. Arnold appeals ethics decision against him

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Former state Rep. John Arnold asked Franklin Circuit Court Monday to dismiss the Legislative Ethics Commission’s decision that found him guilty of three ethics charges in a sexual harassment case.

Arnold, D-Sturgis, asked the court to set aside the commission’s fine and reprimand against him.

He claimed the commission did not have any jurisdiction over him as a former legislator and had no say over any sexual harassment regulations.

The commission had no immediate comment on Arnold’s lawsuit.

Candidate for state House seat claims fraud in GOP primary election

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –Richard Treitz, a candidate in last month’s Republican primary election in the state House’s 24th District that covers Marion, LaRue and Green counties, is legally contesting the results of the election.

Treitz, in a lawsuit filed May 30 in Green Circuit Court, claims that election officials allowed a third candidate’s name – Amber Roger Dones –to appear on the ballot even after she had withdrawn from the race on Feb. 28.

The election results showed Treitz of Greensburg losing to J. Alex LaRue of Hodgenville by a vote of 1,400 to 1,166.

In his lawsuit, Treitz claimed that the county clerks in the district “failed and refused to inform the voters” during the election that Dones had withdrawn from the race and was not a valid candidate.

He said Dones got about 343 votes, which would have gone to him.

“The intentional and pervasive failure to inform the voters of the defective ballots amounts to perpetrating a fraud on the voters and unjustly and unlawfully influencing the outcome of the election,” the suit said.

Treitz is asking the court to set aside the election. He also wants the court to declare him the winner or allow all the voters who voted for Dones to vote again in a special election in the district.

Election officials have not yet replied to Treitz’ lawsuit.

Democratic incumbent Terry Mills of Lebanon will face the Republican nominee for the House seat in the Nov. 4 general election. Mills had no opponent in the May Democratic primary election.

Chris McDaniel confusion: Kentucky and Mississippi politicians share same name

Kentucky state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor MillBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Come Tuesday night, cable news might be a confusing place for voters in Northern Kentucky.

No, you didn’t miss an election. And no, your state senator didn’t move to Mississippi.

With Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel running as the Tea Party favorite to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday’s primary election, Kentucky’s state Sen. Chris McDaniel said there has been plenty of confusion.

McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, said more than a few people have confused him for the candidate farther south on Facebook, Twitter, and letters to the state Capitol and his personal mailbox.

When Mississippi’s McDaniel first got in the race, his tech staffer reached out to the Kentucky name twin in hopes of buying his Internet domain — www.chris-mcdaniel.com — but nothing ever came of it.

Kentucky’s McDaniel said the letters are coming from “both sides — love and hate.”

“His friends have found me. His enemies have found me,” the Bluegrass McDaniel said Monday. “I’m just waiting for his donors to find me, and then we’ll be even I guess.”

Legislative leaders make joint appointment to ethics panel after two-year wait

By Jack Brammer

jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers filled a position Monday on the Legislative Ethics Commission that has been vacant for two years.

The two legislative leaders jointly appointed Henry Stephens, a professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law, to fill out the nine-member commission that came under fire recently for not having a majority of members present to hear sexual harassment complaints against a former legislator.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Monday that the apppointment took such a long time because it was “an ongoing process, but we are pleased to have found such a well qualified person to serve.”

Stivers’ spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said he has “been vetting a number of individuals” who would be acceptable to both Stumbo and him.

The other commission appointments are split evenly between them.

National Republican legislative committee aims to help flip control of Kentucky House

By Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

A national campaign committee will help Kentucky Republicans this year in their effort to take control of the state House for the first time in almost a century.

The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee has spent more than $1 million on legislative races in Kentucky since 2008, and according to a memo provided to the Herald-Leader, the committee plans to play big in the Bluegrass State again this year.

“We believe we’ve got a great shot in Kentucky,” said Justin Richards, political director for the RLCC. “We’ve already invested $1 million in legislative races since 2008 and expect the dwindling Democrat majority and our better candidates to put us in a position to invest a record amount of resources to ensure Republicans capture control.”

The RLCC 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. The group spent more than $200,000 in Kentucky last year and expects to top its previous spending records this year.

“In the Bluegrass State, Republicans have the momentum, plan and money to win the majority,” according to the memo.

Democrats now hold a 54-46 majority in the House, where they have maintained control since 1921. The RLCC said it has identified nine seats Republicans can win in November.

Daniel Logsdon, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Thursday that he’s confident Democratic House candidates will have plenty of money to compete this fall and that voters will reject the “radical, obstructionist, Washington D.C.-style politics that House Republicans want to bring to Frankfort.”

“Kentuckians do not want to see a war on education, on working families, on voting rights, and on women that has happened in other states where Republicans control the state legislature,” Logsdon said in a statement. “Kentuckians want their legislators from both parties to come together to work with Gov. Beshear to move the state forward.”

Republican fundraising group announces ‘Contract with Kentucky’

By Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

In a dining room at the Triple Crown Country Club in Union, a group of Northern Kentucky Republicans gathered in late February to announce they were revving up a dormant Super PAC with the goal of flipping the state House to GOP control.

After speaking, Richard Knock, a prolific Republican fundraiser and chairman of AmeriGOP, opened the meeting up for a discussion, leading one audience member to suggest that Republicans create a written philosophy for the 2014 elections similar to the “Contract with America” that congressional Republicans rode to control of the U.S. House in 1994.

On Thursday, Knock’s group announced its “Contract with Kentucky,” a list of 10 economic beliefs that candidates must share to win the financial backing of the group.

Noting recent job loss announcements at Toyota in Erlanger and Fruit of the Loom in Jamestown, Knock said that “the loss of more than a thousand Kentucky jobs calls for bold action.”

“We want people to know that the AmeriGOP is raising money to send men and women to Frankfort who will support reforms that ensure we don’t lose one more company to states like Texas that are charging forward with conservative policies,” Knock said.

According to a news release first obtained by the Herald-Leader, the group’s 10 guiding principals are “job-friendly policies; opposition to over-regulation of energy and natural resources, particularly the coal industry; health care liability reform; opposition to redistribution of tax dollars; telecommunications reform; debt reduction; eliminating job-killing regulations; pension transparency; amending the tax structure; and pushing back against government takeover of our health care system.”

“If current leadership in the Kentucky House of Representatives won’t move Kentucky forward, then we will move forward with candidates who will put Kentucky’s interests first,” Knock said. “Like most business owners in Kentucky, I am so tired of watching my state get left in the dust while our surrounding states pass this legislation.”

Democrats hold a 54-46 majority in the House.

At the February announcement, Knock said the group would not get involved in primaries, releasing a list of candidates the Super PAC planned to raise money for that includes Keith Travis in the 6th District, Alan Braden in the 13th, Alex LaRue in the 24th, Jim DuPlessis in the 25th, Jerry Miller in the 36th, Jonah Mitchell in the 39th, Mike Nemes in the 49th, James Allen Tipton in the 53rd, Mark Hart in the 78th, and George Myers in Lexington’s 79th District, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom.

Knock’s group helped elect U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in 2010 and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie in 2012.