Remember the homophobic mailer in Louisville that trashed Ken Herndon, the Jefferson County Judge-Executive and candidate for Metro Council?
Here’s a link to our original story. And here are the sickening images of the mailer to refresh your memory:
We now learn that former Metro Councilwoman Denise Bentley is likely behind the mailer.
Herndon said he suspects Unseld’s campaign manager, former councilwoman and political operator Denise Bentley, played some role, mostly because of what he called a history of using controversial campaign ads.
“We had nothing to do with it,” Bentley said Monday in a phone interview. She told LEO that Unseld was appalled by the mailer, which he — along with the rest of his district, which includes Old Louisville, California and South Central neighborhoods — received at his home. In a press conference a day before the election, Unseld denounced it and denied any connection.
Bentley has been a consultant on several area campaigns that used negative ads. In 2006, she was an unofficial advisor to the campaign of Sharon Dummitt, a white woman who was running against current 3rd District Councilwoman Mary Woolridge. During that campaign, an ad surfaced showing a pair of African-American hands clutching cash — an insinuation that Woolridge, who is black, shouldn’t be trusted with district dollars.
It should be noted that George Unseld didn’t decide to denounce the mailer until several days later, after receiving complaints from his supporters. He said as much during his press conference, indicating that he was speaking out because people had complained to him. Nothing about him being personally offended or outraged.
Read the rest of the juicy, juicy about Denise Bentley and the drama involving Jim King after the jump…
The gossip from day one is that Bentley’s been behind this all. She has a history of using nasty campaign tactics and a history of selling out politically in order to make a dollar or two (aka ditching her council seat to take a job in the Fletcher administration.) We call on anyone who has information about this matter to come forward. We’ll protect your identity and are sure LEO would do the same.
This isn’t where the story ends. LEO’s Phillip Bailey also reports that Metro Council President Jim King pressured Ken Herndon to drop out of the race.
Parallel to the mailer, LEO has learned, Herndon also faced consistent pressure to drop out of the race from Metro Council President Jim King, D-10. Herndon told LEO that since last July, King, who according to election finance records gave $2,000 — half as a councilman and half as head of King Southern Bank — to Unseld’s re-election campaign, suggested to Herndon repeatedly that he abandon his campaign. Noble said that a month before the election, at an event for his daughter, Katie King, who was running for District Court judge, an animated King cornered him, demanding that Herndon drop out.
A subsequent open records request by LEO found that three weeks before the election, King sent a letter to Herndon’s employer, Dan Kelleher, president of the Louisville Downtown Management District, where Herndon is employed, saying he’d “received several inquiries regarding the propriety of an active employee … participating in a primary election as an opponent of an incumbent Metro Councilman.”
King admitted in the letter that the County Attorney’s office had already informed him there was no prohibition for “an employee of a Metro agency such as the LDMD from seeking the office of a sitting council member,” but viewed it “as a matter for your Board.” King’s letter began by reminding Kelleher that his agency’s budget requires Metro Council approval.
Now King is pissed that he’s getting negative press as a result of his involvement. He told Rick that he never spoke to Herndon and didn’t pressure him to drop out of the race. Which, well, everyone in Louisville political circles knows is the furthest thing from the truth. King tried from the beginning to push Herndon out of the race.
King’s also trying to play his lack of a response to LEO (“LEO gave King five days to respond before press deadline; despite numerous and repeated inquiries by the newspaper, he did not.”) as LEO’s fault. He suggested that the paper didn’t go far enough in seeking him out, but, uh, that’s bullshiz.
King denied pressuring anyone to get Herndon to drop out of the race, but did say he supported Unseld. He said he didn’t respond to LEO because he was busy at Metro Council hearings, and suggested that LEO should have come to City Hall to ask him about the story.
Let’s get real. Here’s what the paper’s editor had to say:
Stephen George said the paper gave King five full days to respond. “When we didn’t hear back from him by our deadline early this week, we extended it by a half day. Our reporter spoke with his legislative aide several times attemptting to schedule a meeting of phone call. We called King’s cell phone and left messages there. He had plenty of time to respond.”
Soooo, basically, King’s full of it.
Oh, and that letter King sent to Herndon’s employer in an attempt to threaten him? We know who requested the letter and we are not enthused. The LEO alludes to who is responsible:
Kelleher said he wasn’t intimidated by the letter, but after he sent a response to LDMD Board members requesting input about personnel-related rules, he received what he characterized as a cryptic message from Bruce Traughber, Metro’s director of economic development, who sits on the LDMD Board of Directors as proxy for Mayor Jerry Abramson. Traughber’s message was succinct: “Metro policy prohibits a city employee from running for a council seat.”
Whole bunch of sick, nasty folks getting dirty in Louisville these days. Homophobes, dirty personal politics, threats, dishonesty. Only the tip of the iceberg.