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Senate sends cyber-security bill to the House

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
FRANKFORT – The Senate approved a cyber-security bill Friday that would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information within 35 days.
House Bill 5 now goes back to the House to consider the Senate’s version of the legislation.
The measure is being pushed in this year’s legislative session by Auditor Adam Edelen. He complained earlier this month that the Senate was not acting quickly on it.
“The process wasn’t pretty, but bipartisan agreement was reached on one of the top public protection issues of the digital age,” Edelen said Friday in a release.

Senate panel approves cyber-security bill pushed by Edelen

State Auditor Adam EdelenBy Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – A Senate committee Monday night unanimously approved a cyber-security bill that Auditor Adam Edelen had complained was being blocked in the Senate because of political reasons.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee changed House Bill 5 before approving it and sending it to the full Senate. Chairman Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, told reporters that the amended bill had the support of Edelen.

Edelen, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, said in an email that he appreciated Bowen “clearing the logjam on House Bill 5 and moving this important cyber-security bill forward.”

House Bill 5 would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information. Almost 30 groups have endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Bowen said the biggest change the Senate committee made in its 21-page substitute to the House bill was giving agencies 72 hours to notify the state police commissioner, auditor and attorney general of a security breach. The original bill gave agencies 24 hours.

The measure would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Earlier this month, Edelen held a news conference to say he was “deeply frustrated” that the Republican-controlled Senate was not acting on his legislation, which garnered nearly unanimous support in the Democratic-led House.

He particularly was upset with Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who had dubbed the measure “the Adam Edelen for governor bill.”

Thayer at the time said the bill would rise or fall on its own merits. He also said politics had nothing to do with the Senate’s handling of the bill.

Thayer, who is on the committee that unanimously approved it Monday, was eager to put the measure on the “consent calendar” when it is considered in the full Senate. A bill on the consent calendar means it can be acted upon at the same time with other measures without debate.

Promising ‘big things,’ Adam Edelen is focused on Governor’s Mansion

State Auditor Adam EdelenBy Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

After the GPS failed, state Auditor Adam Edelen took over, giving directions through downtown Paris to the young staffer driving, and he arrived to speak at the Rotary Club meeting about 20 minutes early.

Among the first there, he chatted up two of the country club officials and an employee setting up lunch as his staff eyed the fried fish, grilled cheese sandwiches and chili that was coming.

“We don’t eat much,” Edelen said, grinning.

With Edelen, who has time?

At 39, he is considering calendar dates near the first Saturday in May to announce that he is running for governor.

“My guess is the field will be pretty well established this spring, sometime either before or right after Derby,” Edelen said. “And I wouldn’t anticipate, if I were to go, I wouldn’t anticipate being a late entrant.”

To his critics, being late has never been a problem for Edelen, a young man in a hurry who is guided by ambition that they say will be his undoing.

Auditor Edelen and Sen. Thayer spar over Senate’s handling of cyber-security bill

Adam Edelen
By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – A “deeply frustrated” state Auditor Adam Edelen accused Senate Republican leaders, especially Majority Leader Damon Thayer, of blocking for political reasons a cyber security bill he is pushing.

Edelen, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, said at a news conference Thursday that Thayer is preventing a bill that had near unanimous support in the House from moving forward.

He said his bill “can’t even get a damn hearing” in the Senate.
State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown

House Bill 5 would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information within 35 days. Almost 30 groups have endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Thayer, at a news conference an hour after Edelen called him “the chief obstructionist” to HB 5, said he finds “it kind of comical that the auditor has become so hysterical about the fact that his bill hasn’t moved yet.”

House approves bill to protect personal data on government computers

Adam Edelen

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The state House signed off Thursday on a bill that would require state and local government agencies to notify citizens if their personal information on government computers is exposed or hijacked.

House Bill 5, backed by Auditor Adam Edelen, got unanimous approval in the House on the chamber’s consent calendar.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Denny Butler of Louisville and Republican Sal Santoro of Florence, requires state and local government agencies to notify individuals affected by a data breach within 35 days of the incident.

Notification must be provided on the agency’s website and to the media. Individuals affected must be notified by phone, mail or email.

Law enforcement, regulatory agencies and the auditor’s office must be notified within 24 hours. If a breach affects more than 1,000 individuals, the Finance Cabinet and national consumer reporting agencies must be notified.

The bill also contains provisions to strengthen cyber security protections. It calls for agencies to encrypt personal information and calls on the Commonwealth Office of Technology to establish cyber security training for agencies.

Kentucky is one of four states that do not have a law requiring government to notify citizens of a breach.

Political speaking order set for this weekend’s Fancy Farm

FRANKFORT — The speaking order for politicians at this weekend’s 133rd annual Fancy Farm picnic has been set.

The political speaking will begin at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday on the grounds of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Graves County.

Mark Wilson, political organizer for the church picnic, said Monday that the no-shows are Gov. Steve Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and state treasurer Todd Hollenbach.

The political speaking, to be emceed by “Comment on Kentucky” host Ferrell Wellman, will begin at 2 p.m. CDT with five minutes of comments each by state Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, and state Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfiled.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, then will get six minutes.

Following McConnell also with six minutes will be U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville.

Each of the attending state constitutional officers will get six minutes. In order of speaking, they will be Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Attorney General Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Comer is a Republican; the others are Democrats.

Matt Bevin of Louisville, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate next year, will get five minutes. So will Ed Marksberry of Owensboro, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2015. They will flip a coin to see who goes first.

Prosecutors say Richie Farmer’s alleged wrongdoing started before 2008

Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer misused state resources to further his personal and political agendas prior to 2008, federal prosecutors allege in court documents filed late Friday.

Prosecutors said Farmer, who was agriculture commissioner from 2004 to 2011, was only charged with alleged improprieties from 2008 to 2011 because a five-year statute of limitations prohibits them from pursuing alleged wrongdoing before that time.

Still, prosecutors said they plan to introduce evidence about Farmer’s conduct prior to 2008 during trial to bolster their argument that Farmer had an “unwarranted sense of entitlement.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said prosecutors plan to show that Farmer improperly influenced the hiring, promoting and rewarding of more employees than the three who are mentioned in an April indictment of Farmer.

Testimony and evidence also will show that Farmer, a former beloved University of Kentucky basketball player and once rising star in the Republican Party, tried to influence private vendors to provide goods and services to him or the department.

Former Kentucky Democratic Party chief mulling possible bid for U.S. Senate

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Bill Garmer said Friday he is considering running for the U.S. Senate next year if Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes declines to enter the race against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

“A lot of people have talked to me about the race,” said Garmer, a Lexington lawyer, in a telephone interview. “But Alison is the center of discussion. In my mind, if she wants the nomination, she has my support. She is one of the bright stars in the Democratic party and she wants to serve Kentucky. I would be the first in line to support her.”

Asked if he would consider running if Grimes decides not to run, Garmer said, “that sounds like a lawyer’s question but that would be fair.”

Grimes said April 23 that she is pondering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year against McConnell. She said she would “take the time to reflect with my family, my supporters on how I can best continue to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Owsley County Clerk to resign as part of plea deal

Gabbard Sid

FRANKFORT — Longtime Owsley County Clerk Sid Gabbard must resign and repay the state more than $61,000 after entering an Alford plea Friday to charges of tax evasion and abusing the public trust.

Gabbard, who has first elected clerk in 1985, will not serve any jail time as a condition of his plea, state officials said Monday. He entered the plea in Franklin Circuit Court to three counts of abuse of public trust and three counts of willfully filing false tax returns or failing to pay taxes.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that there is enough evidence to be found guilty.

Attorney General Jack Conway’s office opened an investigation into Gabbard’s bookkeeping after a 2010 review by state auditors showed repeated problems in the office. The attorney general’s investigation revealed that Gabbard withheld state income tax from employees’ checks but didn’t forward it to the state.
“The citizens of Owsley County elected Sid Gabbard to represent them with honesty and integrity,” Conway said. “Mr. Gabbard betrayed that public trust. He treated public funds as his own at a time when communities across the commonwealth have struggled to fund vital programs and protect services.”

Gabbard must resign after his June 14 sentencing date, but he may step down sooner, said Wade Rasner, Gabbard’s attorney.

Beshears added Social Security to income in 2012

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Jack Brammer — jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane Beshear, picked up an extra source of income last year: Social Security checks.

The Beshears listed retirement income from the Social Security Administration in their latest financial disclosure form filed with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Gov. Beshear will turn 69 on Sept. 21. Mrs. Beshear turned 66 last December.

The Beshears listed five sources of gross income exceeding $1,000 in 2012 other than his $133,644 annual salary as governor. They included four from the previous year: a Schwab One investment account in Lexington, two Hilliard Lyons investment accounts in Hopkinsville, and income from Hourglass Farm in Lexington.