Reliving The Comer Crap Once More

Let’s talk about the latest issue of Kentucky Roll Call (Warning: External PDF Link) because Jamie Comer is in the news again. Note: If you aren’t familiar with KRC, it’s something political nerds have read for a long time. In the age of internetting and tweeting and all of that hullabaloo, it’s something most of us turn to for something more than a hot take. It’s good, old fashioned Kentucky politicking whether you like it or not. It’s 100% worth the $12-$15 a month.

And this time it’s all about Jamie’s failed gubernatorial campaign strategy. Or, more specifically, the failure of Comer’s lawyer/lobbyist/adviser to — let’s just call it what it is — slut shame Marilyn Thomas.

Some excerpts:

This is a story of how an ex-girlfriend of a candidate for governor in the 2015 Republican primary altered the destiny of the commonwealth. The story is based on confidential interviews that Kentucky Roll Call conduct- ed over the past two months with credible sources close to the campaigns of Jamie Comer and Hal Heiner.


The lifespan of the story might have been about three days had it not been for what happened next. After read- ing Comer’s denials in the Herald-Leader, Thomas made a decision to tell her side to reporter Joe Gerth of The Courier-Journal in a 1,700-word letter. Her decision launched The Story of the election, and it was the tipping point of Comer’s campaign.

Apparently after a phone call Thomas received from an unidentified source to inform her that Youngman was working on a story about her former relationship with Comer, that’s when she composed the letter, apparently completing it, before Youngman’s story ran.


But after reading Comer’s blanket denials, which made her out to be a liar, Thomas broke her silence and sent the letter to Gerth…


But the media stories that sprung from the allegedly stolen e-mails hobbled Comer and Heiner enough to allow Matt Bevin to win the primary.


Actually, it was the Comer campaign that leaked the the e-mails to the Herald-Leader. A source in a position to know told Kentucky Roll Call that leaking the e-mails was a “calculated decision…that went wrong.”


Comer’s “calculated deci- sion” to leak the e-mails arguably led to his defeat, as the eagle contributed the feather for the arrow that killed it.


The way the story was written, readers were left with an impression that there might be a wicked collusion between Adams, Crosbie and the Heiner campaign —to damage Comer by some dark means.

Although Youngman’s story was primarily about Heiner, he presented no proof that Heiner—who carries an earned, sterling reputation card—was ever involved in any kind of smearing of an opponent during his political career. The story did not say or imply that Heiner’s running mate was involved, or that she brought anything back to the camp—only that her husband was encouraging an anti-Comer blogger.

Yet, the headline of Youngman’s story read: “Exclusive: Heiner apologizes to Comer over campaign’s communication with controversial blogger.”


That made it seem that Adams had confessed to being in collusion with the Heiner camp and that he did something immoral, underhanded or awful enough that Heiner apologized. Adams did not acknowledge or con- fess wrong-doing to Youngman and Stamper.

Further, of the first 11 paragraphs in the story, 10 were about Heiner.


The Comer campaign gave the ill-gotten e-mails to Youngman, anticipating Youngman would bring Heiner into the story in a way that would discredit Heiner.

Unwittingly, Youngman participated in that political scheme.


This story came to our attention and prompted our research when a Republican source on the inner circle of one of the candidates told me he had reasons to believe that Danny Briscoe, the Democratic guru of strategy in Kentucky politics, actually orchestrated— through GOP operatives he outwitted—the leak of the e-mails in order to clear the path for Matt Bevin, who the Democrats wanted to win the primary: the tea party aligned Bevin, they figured, would be the easiest Republican for the Democrats to beat in November.


Briscoe had a political but not personal relationship with Riggs Lewis, the lawyer-lobbyist who was the Jefferson County coordinator for Comer, and the alleged carrier of the leaked e-mails to the Lexington Herald- Leader.


While it shouldn’t be ruled out that Adams’ computer was hacked, most of the speculation is on a computer server in Scott Crosbie’s former law office.

On April 30, the day after Youngman’s story ran in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Adams posted on his blog that another blogger, Jake Payne, editor of Page One, had written that Comer was aware that allegations about him assaulting Marilyn Thomas had been circu- lating at least a year before the election, and that Comer tasked Riggs Lewis to find out about it.

Payne knew that to be a fact, according to Adams, because Payne had posted: “I helped them [Comer and Lewis] get to the bottom of it…And, according to Lewis, there’s evidence to suggest members of the Heiner campaign are sources of the information.”

Note the phrase “are sources of ” in the above para- graph. That’s different than saying, “the source of.” The former may be interpreted as saying people in the Heiner campaign heard and took part in gossip at rallies and dinners on the road, which is likely, given the nature of rumors and political gatherings — that’s what they do, exchange political talk. But the wording, “are sources of,” is broad and runs short of saying outright that Heiner’s campaign created the allegations, but it infers they did.

On May 1, the day after Adams’ post, Payne wrote on his blog, “The emails apparently came from the email server of Scott Crosbie’s old law firm.”

In a later posting, Payne reported that Riggs Lewis gave the e-mails to Sam Youngman.


Michael Adams says someone pretending to be him created a fake Yahoo e-mail account using the name michaeljadams00@yahoo. com. Through that faux identity, they sent an e-mail to Riggs Lewis and blind copied Thomas and Adams.


Someone hired an international private-eye firm, Guidepost Solutions LLC, headquartered in New York City, to investigate Thomas.

Somebody paid big bucks to have Thomas investigat- ed. And it was likely paid for with private funds to avoid it showing up on a campaign finance report.

Be sure you go read it all. And buy Lowell’s stuff. Subscribe. Do all the things.

Some thoughts:

The mysterious “Republican operative” sounds surprisingly like Riggs Lewis. He’s told countless people the same stories, myself included, about Danny Briscoe. About how he attended parties involving Briscoe and others in the political set. About how folks told him early on that there was Marilyn-related dirt on Jamie.

I know the entire campaign was aware in the beginning stages and so does everyone else. It was all people could talk about behind the scenes. It was all I spoke about to the Comer folks, Holly Harris included, because it was so unbelievable in the beginning. Until we all started to realize that Jamie had pulled the wool over peoples’ eyes (not just Thomas-related) and that he had misled, backtracked, flip-flopped and manipulated in ways he promised never to do.

Riggs leaked those emails to the paper. He’s not slick enough to cover his tracks. He likely obtained those emails indirectly from Scott Crosbie’s former firm. At least that’s what the Comer folks tell me. You know who I know. It’s not a secret. And it’s what Riggs told me during the same phone call wherein he explained what was going on. I published what was going on at the time — even included screenshots of some other emails sent to Comer’s running mate — and it all turned out to be true.

When we (not just me at that time) said “sources”? That’s plural. Meaning multiple people. Multiple people from the Conway camp and folks in the Heiner camp.

Riggs knows who hired the private investigator because I had conversations with him about it. He even had folks sit outside Michael Adams’ home to watch him. He can deny it all he wants but he told me he had people in NYC checking Marilyn out. Some enterprising journalist should dig into the Super PAC that was supporting Comer because I’m confident they’d find something fascinating on that front.

Riggs and another lobbyist also convinced a few reporters to dig deep into Marilyn Thomas’ background in Kentucky. Long after the meat had been picked from the bone. People traveled to her hometown to meet with relatives and former boyfriends. Two reporters spent countless hours trying to talk to people at her former high school. One met with relatives of a deceased former boyfriend the Comer folks concocted some bizarre story about. It was desperate. They still want to shame her, blame her and drag her through the mud. They’ll keep trying to exact revenge.

After the scandal had broken wide open and Joe Gerth had published everything, one Lexington reporter spent weeks sending hateful, drunken (? had to be because they were awful), extreme text messages to Comer folks who jumped ship. Accused them of being plants the whole time, of concocting a scheme to take down Jamie out of jealousy (wtf), of leaving Jamie in the dust for money. The reporter used talking points that I’d seen and heard before, unsurprisingly. From Riggs Lewis and another lobbyist. They tried to feed the same lines to me until they were called on the carpet.

The TL;DR? Read KCR. It’s fairly accurate. As close to accurate as any one person is going to get when it comes to the Comer scandal. Ignore the Comer supporters who try to dismiss it.

It won’t be going away. It’ll impact Jamie during his campaign to replace Floridian Ed Whitfield in congress. And his shitty campaign advisers will continue to try the same stunts over and over.

The Democratic Party could finally win back Western Kentucky if they were competent enough to get all their ducks in a row.

I hate doing these Comer brain dumps and wish he’d just go away. Kentucky deserves better.

Oh, and Lowell? Come on with this:

Photocopying or reproducing in any form in whole or in part is a violation of federal copyright law and is strictly prohibited without the publisher’s consent.

Excerpting, as we have done, is wholly acceptable and legal. It’s 2015. That’s how the internet and the rest of the world works. No one is going to steal your material. Heck, I’d even consider giving you free advertising if you’d make your content more readily available because it’s good stuff.

Your Morning Dept Of Awful Things

Jack Conway stuck to the script and Matt Bevin continued his seemingly spontaneous campaign during an hour-long debate before the rabid fans of Big Blue Nation on the state’s most popular sports talk radio show. [H-L]

U.S. airstrikes hit Taliban positions overnight around a key northern city seized by insurgents this week as Afghan troops massed on the ground Wednesday ahead of what is likely to be a protracted battle to retake Kunduz. [HuffPo]

It wasn’t a miscommunication until they were called on the carpet. People trying to communicate with the Kentucky Division of Water on new water quality standards using email were told this week to buy a stamp and send their comments via snail mail. [C-J/AKN]

A bipartisan group of senators on the Judiciary Committee is preparing to unveil a criminal justice overhaul proposal as early as Thursday. [NPR]

Jack Conway, Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General who is running for governor, and Greg Stumbo, Kentucky’s Speaker of the House, are in the same party and are on the same side when it comes to coal, which they both defend. But they don’t always agree. [Ronnie Ellis]

Pope Francis met privately in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a Vatican spokesman confirmed on Wendesday. [NY Times]

Last week, I was proud to join with the father of Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder and other legislators as we stood together to advocate for additional safety measures for law enforcement. [Greg Stumbo]

LaserLock Technologies, a firm that sells anti-counterfeiting products, won a powerful congressional ally on Capitol Hill after recruiting a Kentucky congressman’s wife. Representative Ed Whitfield, a senior Republican lawmaker from western Kentucky, personally submitted company documents on behalf of LaserLock to the congressional record in support of legislation crucial to the firm’s business. [Lee Fang]

The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is upset he was quoted in a television ad for Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway. Duncan – who is from Inez, Ky., and now heads the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity – told WYMT his comments were taken out of context. “The comments that I made were as the chief executive officer of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. It had nothing to do with the Republican National Committee,” Duncan said Tuesday night in a phone interview. [WYMT]

U.S. bombs somehow keep falling in the places where President Barack Obama “ended two wars.” [The Intercept]

Laurel County is back to being the worst place on earth. A woman has been arrested after sheriff’s deputies say they found a man’s body inside a freezer at her Laurel County home. [WKYT]

It could have been Hillary Clinton’s tweet that did it. Just after the US government had given the go-ahead for Shell to restart its exploration in Alaska, the Democratic presidential candidate took to the social media site. [BBC]

Every community in Kentucky should be serving alcohol and selling it by the package because it’s not the dark ages. Berea voters on Tuesday approved the sale of alcohol by the drink in certain restaurants. [H-L]

After enduring a marathon House hearing on Tuesday during which GOP representatives frequently interrupted her, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards accused them of political grandstanding and using the hearing to demonstrate how “they are obsessed with ending access to reproductive health care for women in America.” [HuffPo]

Let The Jamie Comer Funtimes Begin

Of course Jamie Comer is running for Ed Whitfield’s soon-to-be-vacated congressional seat in KY-01.

Here’s Comer’s statement:

Tompkinsville, KY — Following the announcement by U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield that he will not seek re-election, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer declared his candidacy for the open seat in the state’s First Congressional District. “As a farmer, small business owner, and father of three, it is important to me that we have a conservative representative in Washington.” said Commissioner Comer.

“I appreciate the service of Congressman Whitfield and his commitment to the people of the First District. My wife T.J. and I have been overwhelmed with encouragement from supporters across the entire district. I will be an active, energetic, and accessible Congressman who will work hard everyday(sic) for the people of the First District.”

Comer, a resident of Tompkinsville, is a lifelong farmer and small business owner in Monroe County. Prior to being elected as Commissioner of Agriculture, Comer served as a Kentucky State Representative for Metcalfe, Cumberland, Green and Monroe Counties. He and his wife T.J. are both graduates of Monroe County High School and Western Kentucky University. They have three children ages 4, 8, and 11.

Won’t say I told you so… but I told you so.

Folks close to Mitch McConnell have said for a couple months that they have strong Republican candidates to run against Comer, so that should be fun.

Will also be fun (okay, not fun) to see how the shenanigans of the gubernatorial primary impact Comer now that he’s running for federal office.

Bevin Sucks & Conway’s Folks Do Too

Matt Bevin may be an incompetent bigot and his campaign staff equally useless. That’s kind of a given at this point. But Jack Conway’s folks are unbelievably nasty and vindictive, launching defamation campaigns left and right when a critic steps up. No one’s allowed to question a Democrat in Kentucky without suffering the consequences.

Which is why it’s time to start publishing and sharing all of the fun Conway documents and recordings.

Starting with the NRSC’s 2010 research file on Jack:


Nothing groundbreaking but worthy of a look since he has no credible opponent other than underfunded Drew Curtis.

So keep attacking folks, Conway staffers. Keep up with the nastiness. We’ll keep sharing.

P.S. Drew Curtis should probably examine this big file if he ever finds the time:


Lil Randy Pretends To Be Serious Again

Ed Whitfield is retiring, which Republicans have gossiped about for months. Now Jamie Comer can do more than toy with a run. He’ll have to make a quick decision because other Republicans are ready to jump in. [Deep Thoughts]

The University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences has received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to research injury prevention in U.S. Special Forces. [H-L]

Relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. are better than ever, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations. [HuffPo]

Most public employees in Kentucky — including those of state government and Metro Louisville — will see a bit less in their paychecks starting in 2017 when the Internal Revenue Service will begin applying Social Security and Medicare tax to the employees’ contributions to their retirement funds. [C-J/AKN]

A photographer has snapped the ancient post offices and abandoned mailboxes of the South as symbols of the once invaluable postal system’s gradual disappearance as she documents the US Postal Service’s struggle to survive in the 21st century. [Daily Mail]

State Sen. Whitney Sweaterfield (R-Gay Panicked), Republican candidate for Kentucky attorney general, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rowan County Republican Party at the public library. [The Morehead News]

Races for the top House Republican leadership spots began firming up Monday as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made official his bid for the Speakership, and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) won two key endorsements for the No. 2 GOP post. [The Hill]

Some local law enforcement officers wonder why the fund used to provide training and salary supplements has grown but the stipend they receive hasn’t for more than 10 years. [Ronnie Ellis]

Barring extraordinary events, Richard Glossip will be executed on Wednesday, despite deep uncertainty about whether he is actually guilty of the crime that led to his murder conviction. [ThinkProgress]

Philip Bianchi knew something had gone wrong. Bianchi, a second-generation funeral director and Harlan County’s elected coroner, set out last November with a team that included the Kentucky State Police to exhume the remains of a young woman found murdered in 1969. [WFPL]

Rand Paul says he is “absolutely” in the presidential race for the long haul, despite sagging poll numbers and his early debate struggles. [Politico]

As you can see, Louisville loves killing its people. Totally compassionately, of course, says Greg Fischer. [WHAS11]

Scientists think they can now tie dark streaks seen on the surface of Mars to periodic flows of liquid water. [BBC]

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority earlier [last] week approved tax incentives for companies including Georgetown’s Creform Corp., FedEx Ground Package System and Air Hydro Power. [H-L]

They lost their daughter to a mass shooter and now owe more than $200,000 her killer’s ammunition dealer. [HuffPo]

We Knew UofL Was Messy 8 Years Ago

The federal mine-safety agency opened a new Kentucky center Friday aimed at improving its capacity to handle rescues, with a response truck, communication systems and portable, high-tech equipment to test for poisonous and explosive gases. [H-L]

Military officials on Friday denied the request of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to grow her hair in accordance with female grooming standards. [HuffPo]

African Americans living in Kentucky saw their average yearly incomes drop by more than 11 percent in one year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week. The poverty rate also rose for black Kentuckians at a rate four times more than the rest of the state from 2013 to 2014. [C-J/AKN]

Exxon’s research laid the groundwork for a 1982 corporate primer on carbon dioxide and climate change prepared by its environmental affairs office. [ICN]

The attorney for the man accused of abusing public trust while employed with the City of Ashland has been given more time for discovery in the case. [Ashland Independent]

The White House said on Monday there was a surprising increase in August in the number of children entering the country illegally after those figures fell steadily since the child migrant crisis a year ago. [Reuters]

This is not how Kathy Jones envisioned her retirement years. [Glasgow Daily Times]

For nearly 15 years, voters have been able to click a mouse to view an up-to-date list of who’s contributed to candidates for the presidency and the U.S. House, and how those funds have been spent. [ProPublica]

The more the media hype this guy up, the more they’re contributing to his mental health issues and substance abuse problems. It’s just a spectacle and is beyond unnecessary. They won’t stop until he’s dead and then they’ll turn a blind eye. [WKYT]

Jeb Bush stood before supporters in Tallahassee, the Florida capital over which he presided for eight years, and vowed in his first policy speech as a presidential candidate last June to halt the “revolving door” between Congress and K Street. But the promise was undercut both by the audience to which Bush spoke — which included numerous lobbyists from his days as governor — and by the intensity with which Bush replenished his personal bank accounts upon leaving office by cashing in on the connections he had made. [Politico]

Who could have known, over the past eight years, that there’s a morale problem with faculty and staff at the University of Louisville??? Vicious and disrespectful: that’s how some faculty and staff describe the work environment at the University of Louisville. [WDRB]

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan six years ago to express concerns with his unit’s leadership, an officer has testified. [BBC]

A case alleging that Pike County Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs violated ethics standards ended Monday with an agreement for Combs to be suspended without pay for six months. [H-L]

Seventy-three law enforcement agencies across the country will receive $20 million in federal grants to help them purchase and implement the use of body cameras, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance announced Monday. [HuffPo]

You’re Hung Over From The Debate

A federal judge has barred a Floyd County coal operator from interfering with or threatening federal health and safety inspectors. [H-L]

More than half of the tax cuts proposed in former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) tax plan would flow to America’s wealthiest citizens, according to a report released by the nonpartisan group Citizens for Tax Justice, which advocates for “requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share.” [HuffPo]

Although she returned to her office Monday, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis remained out of sight as one of her deputies issued a heavily altered marriage license to a lesbian couple, likely shielding Davis from more jail time but not the disappointment of her fiery religious supporters. [C-J/AKN]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating four Defense Department labs for mishandling deadly germs used in bioterrorism research, a spokesman said Friday. [NY Times]

It’s the home stretch of campaign season for Jenean Hampton and she could make history. We still know little about her beyond her claims of conservatism and that she supports everything Matt Bevin says. [WHAS11]

We’re surprised Jerry Lundergan hasn’t been footing his bills. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has paid Virginia nearly $40,000 to cover the cost of personal trips on state-owned planes since taking office last year, trying to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in the wake of the gift scandal that led to criminal convictions for his predecessor, Robert F. McDonnell. [WaPo]

The end of this week marks the first month that first grade teachers in the county have taught students who experienced full-day kindergarten last year. [Richmond Register]

Every day in America, mortgage companies attempt to foreclose on homeowners using false documents. It’s a byproduct of the mortgage securitization craze during the housing bubble, when loans were sliced and diced so haphazardly that the actual ownership was confused. [The Incercept]

A tract of land the city was interested in purchasing is going to cost less than what officials had initially thought. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Politicians are suddenly eager to disown failed policies on American prisons, but they have failed to reckon with the history. [The Atlantic]

Andrea Carman, 33, of Owingsville, is the cleaner at the Morehead Goodwill store. She started working there three years ago but the former manager quickly concluded that she needed one-on-one help to train for the job. [The Morehead News]

President Obama has been talking about creating a Consumer Reports-style college ratings system for more than a year. But the effort seemed to get bogged down in politics and a debate over what metrics to include. [NPR]

Dine out Thursday and fight AIDS during this year’s Dining Out for Life, a community celebration to benefit AIDS Volunteers of Lexington. [H-L]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) are calling for a ban on the ability of employers to check the credit history of their employees, saying that the practice is a form of discrimination unfairly targets people who have suffered as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. [HuffPo]