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.”
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.
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Attorney General Jack Conway is betting Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen that the Lady Cardinals will best the the University of Connecticut during Tuesday night’s NCAA women’s championship game.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette already owes Conway a basket of gourmet Michigan goodies after the University of Louisville men’s team defeated Michigan in Monday night’s NCAA championship game. If the Lady Cards lose to the Connecticut Huskies, Conway will owe Jepsen a Kentucky ham. Jespen bet Conway a selection of Connecticut wines.
Conway was already preparing Tuesday for his selection of wines. Conway’s wife, Elizabeth, is a University of Louisville graduate.
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.”
By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — A Virginia company created by the mortgage industry violated Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act by failing to disclose when mortgages were sold or transferred from one bank to another, Attorney General Jack Conway claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court.
The 36-page suit alleges that MERSCORP Holdings Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., both in Reston, Va., were required to record mortgage assignments in the appropriate county clerk’s office, which collects a $12 fee for each mortgage recorded.
Many banks and mortgage lenders sell outstanding loans to free up money for new loans. They use a mortgage assignment to legally grant the loan obligation to the new mortgage holder.
Conway, in a news conference in his Capitol office, said state law is clear that mortgage assignments must be recorded with county clerks.
By Beth Musgrave — email@example.com
FRANKFORT — Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Spencerian College, alleging that the for-profit college deceived students by misrepresenting its job placement numbers.
“In short, we don’t think Spencerian was telling the truth,” Conway said at a Frankfort news conference. “It provided students with information that it knew was false in the hopes of luring them into student loan arrangements and to join their for-profit institution.”
The consumer-protection lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, comes after a two-year investigation into the business practices of for-profit colleges. It’s the fourth time Conway has attempted to take legal action against the for-profit college industry.
Spencerian College has campuses in Lexington and Louisville and is a subsidiary of Sullivan University. A lawyer for the university system said Wednesday that it plans to vigorously defend itself.
By Jack Brammer firstname.lastname@example.org FRANKFORT –Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway touted Kentucky’s new law to curb prescription drug abuse Tuesday but acknowledged that it needs a few changes. Their comments came at the Kentucky Prescription Drug Abuse Policy Forum, initiated by the National Governors Association for several states. “We have been doing [...]
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — An independent panel charged with reviewing child deaths and serious injuries caused by abuse and neglect in Kentucky will meet Tuesday for the first time.
Gov. Steve Beshear established the Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review panel in July, following months of scrutiny by the Lexington Herald-Leader and other media of how the state handles child abuse cases.
Members of the panel — which were appointed by Attorney General Jack Conway and various peer groups — were named in September.
The group is expected to meet once every three months to review all child deaths and near-deaths resulting from abuse or neglect. It must issue annual reports that will be posted online and sent to Beshear, Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton and the legislature. In addition, the panel will make recommendations when needed on how to strengthen child protection efforts by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and other agencies.
By Jack Brammer and Beth Musgrave
DANVILLE – Nearly every major Kentucky politician basked in the media glow of the vice presidential debate Thursday at Centre College.
Each was more than eager to tout the party line and predict victory for his or her slate at the Nov. 6 polls.
With about 3,000 journalists at Centre for the debate between Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Kentucky politicians were busy pontificating throughout the day.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear started the day with a forum in which he predicted President Barack Obama will win in a squeaker.
By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Kentucky is one of the most aggressive states in the nation for rooting out pharmaceutical fraud, according to a report released Thursday by a non-profit watchdog group.
Public Citizen, a Washington D.C. group that focuses on consumer and other issues, examined states’ efforts to go after pharmaceutical companies for deceptive practices. The report looked at all legal actions and settlements by the federal government and by the states.
Since 1991, Kentucky has pursued the most claims against pharmaceutical companies and reached more than 30 settlements.
States can file individual claims against a pharmaceutical company or join other lawsuits brought by other states. Kentucky has pursued the most single-state settlements with 17.