By Jack Brammer
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.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign released its first video ad Tuesday, a parody highlighting the difficulty Democrats are having trying to recruit a viable candidate to run against him.
The video is on the newly-launched website www.obamaskentuckycandidate.com. The Republican campaign says it plans to use the website to track Democrats’ recruiting process.
The nearly three-minute video features clips of Democratic President Barack Obama that have been edited to make it appear he is searching for a candidate to run against McConnell.
Prospects identified include actress Ashley Judd, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, former U.S. ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun and Ed Marksberry of Owensboro, who already has said he will run. The video also features clips of Gov. Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway, former Auditor Crit Luallen, Auditor Adam Edelen, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, and Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, all of whom have said they’re not interested in challenging McConnell.
“We all know President Obama and his liberal allies have made Senator McConnell their number one target,” Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “We thought we would have a little fun with the problems they’ve had finding someone to carry President Obama’s banner in Kentucky.”
The YouTube video was released to McConnell supporters in an email Tuesday morning and posted on Team Mitch’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Logsdon said the video shows that McConnell doesn’t want to talk about his long voting record in Washington.
“The only thing he can do is make fun of serious people who are trying to help Kentuckians,” Logsdon said. “He can’t point to any accomplishments.”
Logsdon said the Democratic Party “will have a strong challenger for him in 2014.”
Asked who that might be, he said “that process is in the works.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Tuesday that Judd should contact Gov. Steve Beshear about the race.
“When we discussed this with the governor last week, he indicated that he’s not had that contact yet,” Stumbo said.
He said he hoped Judd would also talk to other Democratic leaders in Kentucky.
“I think there are some things that we could suggest to her that may help her as she formulated her campaign,” Stumbo said.
Meanwhile, Nicholasville Tea Party activist David Adams said Louisville businessman Matt Bevin is looking at the Republican primary for U.S. Senate as a Tea Party candidate.
Adams said the Tea Party in the state “may have multiple candidates to run against McConnell.”
Bevin said in a statement that he has made no final decision about the race. He said he has met with “various individuals and groups who have expressed their frustration with their current representation in Washington and have encouraged him to consider entering the race.”
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear joined the Kentucky Commission on Women Tuesday to honor three women for their careers and contributions to the state.
Willa Beatrice Brown, Crit Luallen and Joan Riehm were inducted into the “Kentucky Women Remembered” exhibit.
As part of the honor, their portraits will be displayed alongside past inductees in the state Capitol.
HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU
FRANKFORT — State Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock announced Tuesday that Cindy James, who has worked in the offices of state auditor and attorney general, will become acting inspector general. The position became open with the recent firing of David Ray for no specified reason.
James also will be a special assistant to Hancock.
By John Cheves
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates investment markets, wants to depose officials at the Kentucky Retirement Systems as part of its “informal inquiry” into the role of placement agents at the $13 billion pension fund.
Several current and former KRS executives have received subpoenas from the SEC, and all members of the KRS board of trustees since 2007 are expected to be deposed as well, KRS executive director William Thielen said Monday. KRS serves state and local government retirees.
Attorneys for KRS are trying to negotiate a deal with the SEC so the interviews are conducted in Kentucky rather than forcing everyone to travel to New York at considerable expense, KRS board chairwoman Jennifer Elliott said.
“However we do it, our plan is certainly to cooperate with them,” Elliott said.
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — State Auditor Crit Luallen raised eyebrows Saturday when she said at the annual Fancy Farm picnic that she has no plans to exit public service even though she is leaving state office at the end of the year.
The two-term auditor, who has built a reputation as a tough watchdog, has been frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for some of the state’s top elected offices.
But Luallen said Monday she has not made a decision about what she will do after leaving office. Luallen can not seek a third term as auditor.
“This is not a situation that I have a secret plan that I’m keeping confidential,” Luallen said in an interview Monday.
By Jack Brammer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidates for governor, U.S. senators and a “farewell” speech by Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo will highlight this year’s Fancy Farm picnic, which traditionally kicks off the fall campaigns in Kentucky.
Mark Wilson, political chairman for the 131st annual picnic on Aug. 6 at St. Jerome Catholic Church in the small Western Kentucky community of Fancy Farm, released information Wednesday about the picnic’s political speaking program.
Wilson said Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Senate President David Williams have confirmed they will speak at the picnic about their campaigns for governor.
Wilson also said Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, who is running for governor as an independent, will be invited to speak if his required candidacy papers have been formalized.
By John Cheves – email@example.com
FRANKFORT — A key lawmaker on Wednesday said he will revive his efforts to ban well-connected middlemen known as “placement agents” from doing business with the Kentucky Retirement Systems, following a new state audit that raised concerns about the agents.
State Auditor Crit Luallen presented her audit of the state pension agency to the legislature’s interim joint committee on state government. Luallen said she identified no misuse of KRS money related to placement agents, who help private investment companies sell their products. But one agent in particular, Glen Sergeon of New York, enjoyed close access to KRS and made nearly $6 million in fees through his relationship with Adam Tosh, then KRS’ chief investment officer, Luallen said.
Tosh resigned in 2010 after being questioned about Sergeon in an internal audit at KRS.
By John Cheves
At least twice in recent years, Gov. Steve Beshear’s office called the Kentucky Retirement Systems to suggest meetings with two of the governor’s Democratic political supporters who were working on behalf of private investment companies.
The supporters were Mark Guilfoyle, a Northern Kentucky lawyer and lobbyist who helped lead Beshear’s 2007 transition team, and Jill Daschle, wife of the then-executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and daughter-in-law of former U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.
Guilfoyle worked with Fort Washington Investment Advisors, based in Cincinnati, although he said in an interview that he was not paid. Daschle is managing director of investor relations at EnTrust Capital, based in New York.
The companies wanted to manage part of the multi-billion-dollar pension fund for state and county government retirees, said Mike Burnside, KRS executive director until he was fired last month. Both companies were given meetings, although neither won a contract with KRS, Burnside said.
“The only reason I took the meeting (with Guilfoyle) is that I was called by the governor’s office and asked to meet with Guilfoyle and his client,” Burnside said. “I received a similar request from an aide to the governor to meet with Jill Daschle, (who) had a client trying to do business with KRS as well.”
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Department of Insurance wants the Passport Health Plan to require more of its staff to report conflicts of interest and also wants more reporting on how some grant money is spent.
The recommendations came out of an insurance audit of Passport Health Plan, which was the subject of a scathing state audit in November that questioned the organization’s management. Passport Health Plan is currently the only Medicaid managed health care plan in Kentucky, serving more than 160,000 poor people in Jefferson and 15 counties.