Monday, October 31, 2011

Cleaning up David Williams' pension mess

Kentucky state Rep. Ron Crimm and Sen. Jimmy Higdon have pre-filed bills (here and here) to help undo the damage caused by HB 299 from 2005, the legislative pension scandal bill. That bill, championed by Senate President David Williams helped weaken Williams' case for defeating Governor Steve Beshear.

In one week, Williams will be tempted to blame the Tea Party for his loss in the election. It won't work.

What Obama wants to hear from you

Today is the last day for public comment on President Barack Obama's proposed rules for state health insurance exchanges.

What you will find if you go to the site to comment, though, is little more than Obama's proposals, a closed (and empty) comments section and a dead link. Click here to see for yourself.

And if you haven't heard, Kentucky's political leadership in both parties is already engaged in limiting our ability to sidestep this mess.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Big endorsement for P'Pool coming Monday

Kentucky Republican Attorney General candidate Todd P'Pool will be getting a major endorsement on Monday, which should bring significant attention to the national implications of his race.

P'Pool has campaigned effectively in opposition to his opponent's support for ObamaCare and the EPA's war on coal. Unfortunately, Governor Steve Beshear is cruising to victory and most observers expect that to negatively impact the races of other Republicans on the November 8 ballot.

Crit Luallen still playing Frankfort games

Kentucky state Auditor Crit Luallen is sitting on a potentially embarrassing audit report of Perry County Sheriff Les Burgett's office.

Sources inside the Auditor's office say the report was due out early last week, but that its release has been inexplicably delayed.

Luallen has already endorsed fellow Frankfort insider Adam Edelen to succeed her in office. Edelen faces Tea Party Republican John Kemper in the November 8 election.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another attempt to criminalize Tea Party

Frankfort's political establishment continues to pull every possible dirty trick to stop grassroots political activists from knocking them off their perch and cleaning up their mess once and for all. The latest effort could criminalize door-to-door campaigning, an activity at which Tea Partiers are becoming particularly effective across the state.

State Rep. Dennis Keene has pre-filed, HB 63, a bill which would make attaching fliers to voters' front doors a Class A misdemeanor. On top of Kentucky's ridiculous and unconstitutional campaign finance laws, fining citizens for campaigning door-to-door can't be tolerated in a society that prides itself on the freedoms of its citizenry.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rand Paul endorses John Kemper

Sen. Rand Paul has endorsed candidate for Auditor of Public Accounts John Kemper in the November 8 election.

"As a Kentuckian, a conservative and a constant thorn in the side of the political status quo, I fully support John Kemper for Kentucky state Auditor," Sen. Paul said.

"At times, Frankfort can be a lot like Washington. The political class believes it knows what is best and doesn't listen to the voice of the people. I can tell you John Kemper would fight the establishment in Frankfort. Fight it every day. And he would bring honesty and transparency to our state finances."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Florida, watch Kentucky on welfare abuse

Florida's drug testing of welfare recipients law has been in the news this week because a judge there stopped the testing, saying the law is unconstitutional.

The judge is right, but Floridians eager to reduce welfare abuse need only look to Kentucky State Representative Lonnie Napier for guidance.

Florida's law indiscriminately drug tests all welfare recipients. Drug testing of welfare recipients can only work if there is probable cause to suspect drug use. And remember, this only affects people who are on public assistance.

Rep. Napier's bill not only orders drug tests for welfare recipients suspected likely to test positive, it also removes benefits from people who refuse to be tested. Should the Kentucky bill be enacted, it's likely very few tests will actually be given because those targeted will just not show up to be tested and will then be dropped from the rolls.

Florida's law not only fails the constitutional test, it fails the common sense test by wasting lots of money testing everyone on welfare. Resistance to Napier's bill is strong in Kentucky's dysfunctional legislature, but Florida would do very well to follow his lead.

And then hopefully their results will help us change Frankfort.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kentucky's dumber than usual governor's race

Despite having millions of dollars at their disposal, the Beshear/Williams lovefest this fall has been a pretty disheartening affair. And Kentuckians will be paying a price for it for some time to come.

I understand that not everyone is a policy wonk and that races such as this are often turned on emotional appeals rather than rational debate, but in a time of real crisis such as this people are looking for real answers and that opportunity has been missed.

Governor Steve Beshear's message is that he has done a good job managing the state's finances (which is demonstrably false) and that David Williams has blocked his two great ideas, casino gambling and raising the school drop-out age to eighteen. Beshear has also lied about creating (or saving) lots of jobs and is now charging Williams with campaign finance violations.

Senate President David Williams' primary message is that Beshear isn't a leader, doesn't have a plan and that he (Williams) will be a "bold" governor. But nearly all of Williams' economic policy positions have shifted too much over time to be taken seriously now. Williams has also tried to pin campaign finance violations on Beshear.

Politicians often talk about "campaign finance violations" when they have nothing else to say.

The most important issues in this election would be our state's fiscal situation and the economy if we had candidates with credibility. Since we don't, we are stuck watching these two campaigns squabble over how they are funding their television ads.

Gatewood Galbraith is right when he says now is the perfect time for Kentucky to go in a different direction with a different kind of governor. He hasn't managed to capture the tiger even by the tail, though, for a variety of reasons not worth getting into here.

The bottom line is Beshear will win re-election handily and for all the wrong reasons while Williams goes back into the Senate with a higher profile. That may not work out very well for him, though.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you feel protected now?

A Frankfort judge agreed today to let Restoring America air its tv ads supporting Senate President David Williams after Williams' father-in-law divulged that he has given $2.3 million to independent groups to promote Williams' gubernatorial campaign.

So according to the geniuses who thought up Kentucky's ridiculous campaign finance laws, you weren't protected on Monday when you didn't know who was paying for the ads, but you are now because you know.

Feel better?

Campaign finance restrictions are a charade and don't benefit the political process or protect any citizens. The genie is out of the bottle after the Citizens United case and it is just going to get more bizarre. We should beat the rush and repeal all of our campaign finance laws. Then we can turn our focus completely to the quality of candidates' positions and stop twiddling our thumbs watching this garbage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Panicked Democrat attacks Tea Party

The former chief of staff to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear made a stump speech for him today and flipped out talking about the Tea Party.

As reported on, Adam Edelen said "the Republican Party in Kentucky has been completely taken over by the tea party. What that means for us, the Democratic Party is the mainstream party reflecting the mainstream values of Kentucky voters of any party in Kentucky."

What is it with these guys? All the Tea Party wants is smaller government, balanced budgets and to be left alone. Faced with enormous and growing government deficits and bureaucratic encroachment on our rights and in our lives far beyond anything allowed by any constitution on the federal or state level, the mainstream is becoming more tea party every day.

I take it that Mr. Edelen's answer to his Tea Party Republican opponent John Kemper's modest and very mainstream request from earlier today is no.

John Kemper leads the way

Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts candidate John Kemper took the unprecedented step today of returning all campaign contributions from government officials who he may have to audit and then challenged his opponent to do the same.

Democratic candidate Adam Edelen was last seen hiding under his desk.

Edelen has run his campaign so far as the ultimate insider: a former chief of staff to Governor Steve Beshear with aspirations to higher office himself.

Edelen may return all his contributions in an attempt to eschew conflicts of interest he would face as Auditor, but he can't run away now from this power play he and Beshear so carefully engineered for themselves.

Kentuckians need to be able to depend on their Auditor to keep government officials accountable. Even when it means taking on the Governor. No one seriously believes John Kemper's insider opponent has any interest in doing that.

John Kemper is Kentucky's only chance to have an independent auditor for the next four years.

The Shut Up and Work Act of 2012

Leaders of the Kentucky legislature waste time in even-year legislative sessions for two painfully obvious reasons, both of which hurt Kentuckians.

The spans the month of January and involves politicians taking up as few controversial issues as possible in order to get past the candidate filing deadline without attracting opponents who might unseat them. The second follows toward the end of the session when leaders write the state budget in secret as time runs out and without appropriate public scrutiny.

A potential help to the problem of paying legislators to lollygag around wasting time and money and protecting their political backsides comes in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Jimmy Higdon.

The bill will be SB 22 in the 2012 session. It proposes to change the 60 day budget session into a 30 day budget session. We could surely do with a lot less of watching our politicians kill time with self-congratulatory speechifying. They have one job to do in even-numbered years and that is to pass a budget. They should focus on that and nothing else until it is done. Cutting the time for the budget sessions in half would surely encourage more of them to shut up and work.

The gubernatorial candidates would do well to weigh in on this bill right away.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Todd P'pool, don't take the bait!

An independent expenditure group supporting Senate President David Williams' gubernatorial campaign was ordered Monday to pull its television ads off the air after a legal complaint by the Kentucky Democratic Party. The KDP argued campaign finance reports filed by "Restoring America" did not show who paid for the ads and that such an omission violates campaign finance laws.

On Tuesday, a group supporting Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway started airing a tv ad. The "Bluegrass Committee for Justice and Fairness" also did not specify the source of its funding.

Republican Attorney General nominee Todd P'pool may be tempted to petition for the ad running against him to be pulled using the same argument Democrats are using against Williams. I hope he doesn't do it.

Kentucky's campaign finance laws are an unconstitutional mess. No one would expect Todd to take that up now and try to explain it to voters. He would do well, though, to take the high road on freedom on speech by publicly repudiating not the cloak of anonymity covering Bluegrass Committee for Justice and Fairness but the disdain for freedom shown by Kentucky Democratic Party.

Another swing and miss for Mitch McConnell

Roll Call takes a look at Kentucky's GOP today with an article about whether or not Sen. David Williams' coming loss in November will hurt Sen. Mitch McConnell.

I think Mitch will be able to separate himself from this one pretty well, but the establishment versus Tea Party battle for the soul of the Republican party continues with McConnell still on the wrong side.

You can read the article here. This is my favorite line:
"It has been particularly difficult for Williams to fully separate himself from Beshear because, as Senate President, every piece of legislation the governor signed went through the legislative body he controls."

The Republican party remains our state and nation's best vehicle for getting back on track, but that effort isn't helped when powerful figures like Mitch McConnell keep supporting moderate candidates who won't stand up against the status quo.