Roy Butler, ‘Father of Medicaid’ in Kentucky, dies at age 86


FRANKFORT — A memorial service will be held Thursday at a Frankfort funeral home for Roy Butler, known as the “Father of Medicaid” in Kentucky who died Monday of complications with Parkinson’s. He was 86.

Butler, of Shelby County, worked 42 years in state government under the administrations of 11 governors. From the late 1980s until 1992, he was state Medicaid Services commissioner in the Cabinet for Human Resources.

Last October, Butler was inducted into the University of Kentucky College of Public Health’s “Hall of Fame” for “exceptional contributions to the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

A Celebration of Life Memorial is to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the LeCompte Johnson Taylor Funeral Home in Frankfort. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Ashes will be interred at a later date in a private ceremony at the Lebanon Baptist Church in Bald Knob.

–Jack Brammer

Grimes ‘disappointed’ by ethics panel’s decision to forgo punishment of former lawmaker

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman

Likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday she was disappointed that former state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, won’t be punished by a state ethics panel for his alleged sexual harassment of three legislative aides.

After refusing Tuesday night to take questions about Arnold from reporters for the Herald-Leader and cn|2 Pure Politics, Grimes released a statement Wednesday that said she is glad Arnold resigned last September.

The Legislative Ethics Commission fell one vote short of punishing Arnold Tuesday. The deciding vote was cast by Elmer George, who has contributed $5,200 to Grimes’ campaign and was appointed to the commission in January by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who has played a major role at several campaign events for Grimes.

“As I have always said, I will never tolerate discrimination or workplace harassment,” Grimes said in her statement. “Though I am disappointed in yesterday’s decision, I am glad that the representative resigned. Protecting women from violence and harassment is personal to me. As secretary of state, I led the effort to shield domestic-violence victims, and my support for Kentucky women is unmatched in this race. I am the only candidate for U.S. Senate who supports the Violence Against Women Act, equal pay for equal work, and raising the minimum wage.”

When the Arnold scandal erupted last summer, the only statewide elected Democrat to call for his resignation was state Auditor Adam Edelen.

Grimes declines to take questions about Frankfort sexual harassment case

Alison Lundergan Grimes
By Sam Youngman

Likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes told about 150 Fayette County Democrats Tuesday night that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has “yesterday’s view of women.” Then she declined to answer questions about a former Democratic lawmaker accused of sexual harassment.

After her speech, Grimes worked the crowd at the downtown Hilton and left, refusing to speak with reporters about a decision made hours earlier by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission to not punish former state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis. Three legislative aides have accused Arnold of sexual harassment, saying that he touched them inappropriately.

The deciding vote against punishing Arnold was cast by Elmer George, who has contributed $5,200 to Grimes’ campaign and was appointed to the commission late last year by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who has played a major role at several campaign events for Grimes.

Grimes’s spokeswoman, Charly Norton, said the candidate had to “get home,” which is less than a mile from where the dinner was held. The candidate, who added a line about freedom of the press to her standard stump speech Tuesday night, refused to acknowledge reporters who walked out of the hotel with her.

Earlier in the day, Grimes joined national Democrats in pushing for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act on what Democrats termed Equal Pay Day.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Ethics Commission voted 4-1 to punish Arnold for allegedly abusing his position as a public official, but five votes are needed to approve an action by the nine-member commission. George voted no, saying he did not think the commission had the authority to punish someone who was no longer a member of the General Assembly. Three other commission members were absent, and one seat is vacant.

Two of the alleged victims, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, said the commission’s decision appeared political.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner gives his campaign $200,000

Hal Heiner, a former Louisville Metro councilman, announced Tuesday that he has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor. Heiner announced his candidacy at Star Manufacturing in Lexington. PHOTO BY PABLO ALCALA | STAFF

By Sam Youngman

Former Louisville Metro councilman Hal Heiner, the only announced candidate in the 2015 governor’s race, gave his campaign $200,000 of his own money in the first fundraising quarter of 2014.

After officially announcing his run at the beginning of March with Lexingtonian KC Crosbie as his running mate, Heiner raised just more than $86,000 in the first fundraising quarter.

After giving his campaign $200,000, Heiner started the second quarter with a little more than $191,000 in cash on hand.

“Hal and KC are thrilled with the level of support the campaign has received in the first few weeks since announcing their intentions,” campaign manager Joe Burgan said in a statement. “In that time, the candidates have traveled all across Kentucky beginning the process of building a statewide network of support.”

Burgan said the campaign is in a “strong financial position” and will have the funds needed “to communicate their positive message for Kentucky’s future.”

A Republican poll released just before Heiner got in the race suggested Heiner, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Louisville in 2010, has his work cut out for him.

The poll, conducted Feb. 26 and 27 by Robert Blizzard at Public Opinion Strategies, found Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is considering a bid for governor, leading Heiner 42 percent to 14 percent among 400 Republican primary voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Grimes and Jensen join national Democrats in pushing for Paycheck Fairness Act

McConnellGrimesBy Sam Youngman

Kentucky Democratic candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes and Elisabeth Jensen joined national Democrats Tuesday in calling for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, blasting their male opponents as outdated and committed to discriminatory pay practices.

Grimes is running to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Jensen hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Andy Barr in Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

“Today, thousands will make their voices heard and call for action,” Grimes said in an email to supporters. “One voice you will not hear in this chorus is Mitch McConnell’s. For nearly 30 years, people in Kentucky and across the country have called on McConnell to speak up on issues important to women and working families — and for nearly 30 years, McConnell has failed to answer that call.”

Jensen said the day is “a reminder to Kentucky women of Andy Barr’s wrong priorities that put special interests ahead of middle-class families and the women who support them.”

Both statements came Tuesday morning before President Barack Obama was scheduled to speak on the matter. Obama’s efforts to push the issue were complicated by a report released in January by the conservative American Enterprise Institute that showed women working in the White House make 88-cents to every dollar a man makes.

Mike Huckabee will be keynote speaker in Martin County for 50th anniversary of War on Poverty


FRANKFORT — Former Arkansas governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee will join Martin County residents April 25 to recognize the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s visit to Inez to declare a War on Poverty.

Huckabee will be keynote speaker at an event called “Dream! Martin County,” which organizers said would call for a new direction in combating poverty in the area and across the nation. Members of the Kentucky congressional delegation, state and local elected officials, and key business leaders are also expected to speak.

On April 24, 1964, President Johnson stood on the dilapidated porch of Inez resident Tom Fletcher and promised the federal government would end poverty in America.

“Dream! Martin County” participants will highlight private and faith-based approaches to grow the region’s economy. The event will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Roy F. Collier Community Center in Inez.

–Jack Brammer

Beshear launches automotive industry association for the state

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear launched the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association Monday, saying he wants Kentucky to be as closely identified with the auto industry as Detroit.

Made up of Kentucky auto manufacturers, suppliers and supporting businesses, the new group aims to “create a unified voice for an industry sector that is profoundly important to our state’s economic health and growth,” Beshear said at a Capitol news conference.

A 12-member board of directors will develop the association, which will take a leading role in creating collaborative partnerships to advance the industry. Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes will serve as its inaugural chairman.

Beshear said the association’s goal will include branding, advocacy and leadership for the industry.

He emphasized that the new association is not a government agency, but the state will help it “get up and running until it is self-supporting.”

Hayes said he did not know how much state money would be spent to start the partnership, but said it would require a minimal amount for costs such as mailings.

Twelve other states have such organizations.

Besides Hayes, the other board members for the Kentucky group are Mike Goss, general manager for external affairs with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc.; Gabby Bruno, regional director for state government relations for Ford Motor Co.; Eric Henning, regional director for state government relations for General Motors Co.; Joe Adamcik, director of planning and strategy for AGC Automotive Americas; Jim Rachlin, president of Metalsa Light Vehicles USA and Australia; Rich Whitaker, vice president of Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Inc.; Mike Hirsch, vice president of operations for passenger car steering systems for ZF Steering Systems LLC: Doug Cain, chief executive officer for Mubea North America; Brandon Kessinger, vice president and general counsel for Akebono Brake Corp.; Toru (Richard) Kamioke, president and CEO of Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc.; and Kurt Krug, vice president of North American human resources for INOAC.

With more than 1.2 million vehicles produced in 2013, Kentucky ranks third in the nation in light vehicle production and first per capita. The 460 auto-related manufacturing businesses in the state employ nearly 82,000 people. Kentucky’s motor vehicle exports reached a record $5.5 billion last year.

Beshear and Connecticut governor bet on NCAA championship finals


FRANKFORT — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy have a friendly wager on Monday night’s NCAA Championship men’s basketball game.

Beshear has bet a fully stocked Kentucky bourbon barrel basket that the University of Kentucky Wildcats will win; Malloy is wagering Connecticut wine, beer and chocolate for a Huskies victory.

“The Wildcats’ momentum will continue tonight and carry them past UConn, to UK’s ninth NCAA men’s basketball championship, Beshear said in a news release before leaving the Capitol for the game in Arlington, Texas. “Gov. Malloy is a terrific governor and friend, but come Tuesday morning, he will be shipping his wager to Bourbon and Wildcat Country.”

If the Wildcats win, Malloy said he would send wine from the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, beer from Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford and Munson’s chocolates.

“The UConn men, led by Coach Kevin Ollie, are in the midst of an amazing season, and our whole state is behind them for the win,” Malloy said in a news release. “The Wildcats are a formidable team, but I am confident that the Huskies will bring home another championship title.”

The Kentucky bourbon basket – created from a half-barrel from Maker’s Mark – will include Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Bulleit Bourbon, Four Roses, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Town Branch, Willett, Old Pogue, Michter’s and Corsair Bourbon. The basket is provided by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

“We’re so confident of a Wildcat victory, we’re upping the bet with four more bottles of Kentucky’s signature spirit,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

The Cats will tip off against the Huskies at 9:10 p.m. EST at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

–Jack Brammer

Andy Beshear reports $1.1M and Wendell Ford endorsement for attorney general’s race


FRANKFORT — Democrat Andy Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, announced Monday that he has raised more than $1.1 million and has picked up the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Wendell Ford for his campaign for Kentucky attorney general in 2015.

Beshear, a Louisville attorney, said in a release that his campaign raised $880,000 in the first three months of this year.

“I have spent the past few months traveling the state, meeting Kentuckians, and listening to their concerns about the future of our great commonwealth,” said Beshear. “Britainy (his wife) and I are grateful for the incredible outpouring of support we have seen from friends and strangers alike who share our vision of safe, healthy and prosperous communities for all Kentuckians.”

The candidate also said he is “greatly humbled by endorsement of a true fighter for all Kentucky families – Sen. Ford. I deeply value his advice and wisdom, and thank him for his support.”

Ford, in a statement, said, “I encouraged Andy to enter this race early and raise the necessary funds. I am excited about his progress and believe he will make a great attorney general. He has my full support.”

Gov. Beshear said first lady Jane Beshear and he are “very supportive of Andy’s efforts to become the next attorney general and we congratulate him on a very successful fund-raising quarter.”

The governor also said he was “thrilled that our good friend, Sen. Wendell Ford, came out and publicly endorsed Andy in his race. I think that will bode well for the results.”

–Jack Brammer

April 21 is deadline to register to vote in May primary election


Eligible Kentuckians have until Monday, April 21, to register to vote in the May 20 primary election.

In a reminder Monday, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said county clerks’ offices in the state will accept voter registration cards until the close of business April 21. Mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked by that date.

To be eligible to vote, she said, you must be a U.S. citizen, be a Kentucky resident for at least 28 days before election day and be at least 18 years old by the date of the next general election. which is Nov. 4. You also must not be a convicted felon, or if convicted of a felony offense, must have obtained a restoration of civil rights; not have been adjudged “mentally incompetent,” and not claim the right to vote anywhere outside Kentucky.

Minors who are 17 years old but will be 18 years old on or before the general election on Nov. 4 are eligible to register and vote in the upcoming primary; however, they are not eligible to vote in special elections until they are 18 years old.

Voters who have recently moved need to update their voter registration information by no later than April 21.

Persons who move from one county to another county while the voter registration books are open and fail to update their registration information before the voter registration books close are not permitted to vote in the primary, she said.

Changes in party affiliation for the 2014 primary election were due by Dec. 31, 2013. Voters who changed their party affiliation after that date are not eligible to vote in partisan races in the primary, although they may vote on nonpartisan races on the May primary ballot. Voters who changed their party affiliation after Dec. 31, 2013, may still vote for their candidate(s) of choice in the November general election.

Under the Secretary of State’s recently established Address Confidentiality Program, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can register and update their registration while keeping their names and addresses out of publicly available voter records.

“The future of Kentucky and our nation depend on all eligible voters participating in the process,” said Grimes. “Registering to vote is the first step in being a part of the 2014 elections, and I hope that as many Kentuckians as are able will make their voices heard.”

You can check your current registration status on the Voter Information Center,

To obtain a registration card or for more information about registering to vote, visit or contact your county clerk or the State Board of Elections at (502) 573-7100. To learn more about the Address Confidentiality Program, visit

–Jack Brammer