Update: Frank Simon & Illegal Robocalls

Wow. The flood of information we have received since November 5 is overwhelming. Dozens of you wrote in to complain about the disgusting and homophobic robocalls falsely claiming to be from the Fairness Campaign. Most speculate that the calls have Frank Simon’s fingerprints all over them, as they use language Simon utilized in radio ads that scared Louisville’s West End.

Mark Hebert reports (via AP) that Rep. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) proposes legislation to ban robocalls during elections. Hebert says, “I’m not sure banning the phone calls would stand up to a legal challenge but requiring the callers to identify themselves and disclose their organization would certainly be a step in the right direction.”

Well, kids, calls without disclaimers are already illegal:

While the homophobic calls attacking Steve Beshear were non-commercial, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 requires that all automated or prerecorded calls and messages comply with the following:

  1. All calls must at the beginning state the identity of the business, individual or other entity responsible for the call.
  2. At some point during or after the message the caller must provide the telephone number of the business, individual or other entity responsible for the call so you may contact them during normal business hours to be removed from their contact list.

The calls violated both of the above requirements. Click here for more information on the TCPA from the FCC.

It is also worth noting that in 2006 the TCPA was enforced against a company placing calls against Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin.

When AT&T gets their butt in gear by revealing the party responsible for the robocalls, we’ll report it so proper legal action may be taken. We’re sure the newly elected Attorney General would love to get his hands on the information.

Ernest Lee Still Crying Wolf

While we’re on this kick of Ernie kick about exit interviews we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the latest from Joe Biesk of the Associated Press. Biesk asked Ernie about the blanket pardon of his co-conspirators only to hear that it was ‘the right thing to do.’ Along with some whining about Stumbo.

Fletcher has maintained that the investigation was politically motivated by Stumbo’s aspirations to seek higher office…

Still, Fletcher said the pardons were warranted because Stumbo’s approach during the investigation that rocked his administration was unprecedented by prosecuting the case in criminal court…

“It was absolutely the right thing to do,” Fletcher said of the pardon. “I deliberated that quite a while, and we had an evolution of a number of folks that recommended that over a period of time. Even the lieutenant governor recommended that at one time.”

In the deal with prosecutors, Fletcher acknowledged, among other things, that “the evidence strongly indicates wrongdoing by his administration.”

Ernie still seems to have a problem with the truth. He’s obviously forgotten that he admitted wrongdoing in exchange for charges against him being dropped. He’s still fighting reality.

And while he struggles against the reality-based community, is he preparing to pardon the rest of his crew before Beshear takes office? Probably. That is, if there are any left to pardon.

Meanwhile, Fletcher said he’s considering additional pardons. Fletcher said he has people reviewing the pardon requests that have flooded his office, and he’s planning on making announcements before he leaves office on Dec. 11.

“It’s an important role of the governor,” Fletcher said. “There are some people out there who haven’t gotten, I think, either a fair shake or have shown that they’ve really turned their lives around — one or the other.”

Tuesday Propaganda: Dept of the GOP Is Always Hunting Hillary

Don’t waste your time. Former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and his former Miss America wife, Heather French Henry, will be guests on Kentucky Life “Christmas 2007” on KET December 22. They’ll be giving a tour of the Rosemary Clooney House… we mean the house filled with all of Heather’s crap in Augusta (not Maysville as the KET link suggests). The Henrys, you’ll recall, are embroiled in some serious legal disputes. Not to mention they’ve had some difficulty with the IRS (check with the IRS if you want proof) in maintaining 501(c)3 status for their “museum” because they use it as a residence. Par for the course. P.S. If you’ve ever visited the museum your contact information is now part of a political database. Just an FYI. [KET]

All birds leave the nest at some point. Mark Birdwhistell finally jumps ship as secretary of the Health and Family Services cabinet. According to Birdwhistell he’ll be returning to work at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center as an administrator. He’ll also work to kill the rest of health care by serving as a consultant for Medicaid contractor Amerigroup. [C-J]

Purse much? Mitch McConnell loses his lips over Trent Lott during CNN’s footage of a press conference. Inappropriate, yes, but absolutely hilarious. Check the video at the link. [CNN]

Complete and utter crap. That Zogby poll released two days ago showing Hillary getting trampled by everyone and their mother? It’s complete crap. We won’t say we told you so. [Carpet Bagger]

Ernest Lee had horrible advisers. Steve Pence confirms the problems within the Fletcher misadministration and provides a peek into his own credibility by discussing his reasons for refusing to resign as Lt. Gov. Pence may have done some crazy shiz in 2003 but not caving to Fletcher’s obscure desires proves he’s a man of character. We’re sure his new practice as an attorney will be fruitful. [H-L]

Native American outrage. Ernie Fletcher appointed Bruce Brading as chairman of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission (KNAHC) and it turns out he’s quite the shady character. Indictments, fraud, illegal transportation of human remains. Talk about some scandalous hoo-ha. [Rural Democrat]

Source: Fletcher Hosting Semi-Private Press Conference

We have learned from two members of the media that Ernie Fletcher is hosting a semi-private press conference tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:30 A.M. No specifics have been provided by Fletcher but we know Spokesperson Jodi Whittaker invited a select few by telephone.

Among the invitees is one radio reporter, a print reporter from both Louisville and Lexington and a television reporter from each of those cities. Pretty shady, huh? If I was a member of the press who gave a flip about Ernest Lee at this point I’d be rather pissed.

What will these hand-selected reporters ask Ernie at his private party tomorrow? Medicaid budget disaster? Hiring probe? Will he talk about his feelings about Stumbo? Maybe his pitiful legacy as a failed governor? How about why Mitch ditched him on the campaign trail? All worthy questions he’ll probably never be able to answer honestly.

UPDATE: We’ve confirmed Greg Stotelmyer from WTVQ in Lexington and Joe Biesk of the AP in Louisville were invited. Two of the most popular and experienced political reporters with very large audiences were not: Mark Hebert and Ronnie Ellis.  Ernie must absolutely love shooting himself in the foot every day of his life.

Oh Snap Monday: Educational Failure Dept

Rep. Harry Moberly keeps promise, researching damage by mountaintop removal, only Democrat standing up. Puts Jim Gooch to shame. Moberly, according to Stephenie Steitzer, will study the impact of coal mining on December 3 by traveling to Hazard. How long will it take the rest of the legislature to do something like this? Ten years? 15? [The Arena]

Ready to ride? Kentucky Equine Education Project/KEEP needs volunteer riders for Steve Beshear’s inaugural parade. Frankfort – 10:00 A.M. – December 11. If you’re interested in walking or riding, get in touch with KEEP’s field director Cara Stewart. KEEP is headed by Patrick Neely, a guy Republicans and Democrats alike appreciate and one of the brightest political minds in the state. Good opportunity to get involved. [KEEP]

Freedom calls? Is this what the GOP has to look forward to? If so, we’re sorry, GOP. Really sorry. This is quite possibly the most ignorant and racist tripe ever published as an op-ed in any Kentucky newspaper. W. Bryan Hubbard writes not to his fellow Republicans to but his fellow wingnuts. [H-L]

Beshear for the win. Seems governor-elect Steve Beshear is stepping up to finish what Ernie Fletcher stopped. Beshear promises to help finish construction of Kentucky’s Center for African American Heritage. Fletcher and his cronies at the Transportation Cabinet have ignorantly withheld funding to complete the project the past two years. You’d never see this sort of roadblock for something like the Creation Museum. [C-J]

New commissioner. As Mark Hebert reported, Jon Draud is the new Education Commissioner. He’s a Republican selected by a board of Republicans appointed by Ernie Fletcher. Both sides of the aisle have been distraught for weeks over the Board of Education’s apparent lack of common sense. Can we expect success with this continued corruption? Fat chance. [Mark Hebert]

Public corruption in Clay County. You think it’s interesting living in the golden triangle? Think again. The mayor of Manchester along with other public officials dealt drugs, profited from the illegal gun trade, bought votes and when a citizen didn’t want to sell their house to the city? They hired a hit man to torch the place. And people wonder why Eastern Kentucky is falling apart. It might just be because the Roger Benton legacy continues. Those involved were finally sentenced. [H-L here & here]

The Enquirer will never provide real journalism. In Pat Crowley’s latest piece he tells Democrats to be afraid because they’re essentially screwed up in Northern Kentucky. Primarily because Northern Kentucky Democrats have made fools of themselves the past several weeks. He turned what could have been a great 730-word column about the November 6 election into a weird warning for Democrats. Are his editors writing for him? We know Pat is a real journalist and is capable of much better. [The Enquirer]

Finally Revealed: FBI Wanted to Prosecute Steve Henry Criminally

In Ryan Alessi’s story about Steve Pence, there’s a juicy tidbit about his investigation of Steve Henry. Turns out the FBI wanted to prosecute Henry criminally for Medicare fraud but Pence wouldn’t budge. The quest to nab him went as high as “Let the Eagle Soar” John Ashcroft’s office.

Steve Henry, the former Lt. Gov. in the Patton administration, is currently under investigation for serious campaign finance violations. For the purposes of disclosure: I’m (Jake) one of the former Henry employees who delivered evidence alleging Henry’s wrongdoing and look forward to discussing that evidence when it’s all said and done. (Which will hopefully be soon) Until then, this revelation by Alessi is quite telling. Proof that Henry is capable of serious criminal offenses.

From the Alessi story:

In 2001, when he became U.S. Attorney, he inherited a high-profile case involving then-Democratic Lt. Gov. Steve Henry. The FBI had investigated Henry, an orthopedic surgeon, for improperly billing Medicare for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Pence declined to talk specifically about Henry, but he confirmed that in his first year as U.S. Attorney, he fought with the FBI over whether to try “a prominent case” civilly or criminally.

“I decided that the case would go civilly. FBI agents disagreed, and a couple of assistants who worked for me disagreed,” Pence said. “The FBI was so unhappy with it, they went to my superiors in Washington. In the end, it went all the way up to (former U.S. Attorney General) John Ashcroft’s office.” The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a civil suit against Henry in August 2002, and Henry paid $162,000 a year later to settle it.