Instant Racing Case Just Got More Fun

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate heard arguments Wednesday in an instant-racing lawsuit on a motion by the Family Foundation to have an in-court demonstration of the electronic games based on past horse races. [H-L]

U.S. employers added a solid 223,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, a seven-year low. The numbers reflect a job market moving close to full health and raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates as early as September. [HuffPo]

The special rounds of golf were arranged by the tournament host, the billionaire coal operator and Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice, who has been a huge contributor to Beshear’s political causes. But Beshear’s golf excursion — not publicized by the Governor’s Office — comes as Justice remains under watch of the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources as part of an agreed order reached last August for Justice to resolve a record number of strip-mine reclamation violations. [C-J/AKN]

A federal court said in a Monday order that the National Security Agency can resume the bulk collection of American’s phone records for roughly five months as the program is phased out. [The Hill]

Calling Jack Conway a coward seems like a bit of a stretch. A man afraid to answer questions about his brother’s sheningans and how he was involved? Check. Someone who panders to coal publicly while singing a different tune privately? Absolutely. Someone who stands against homophobia while Bevin pushes anti-gay hatred? Of course. But coward? Uh, not based in reality. [WHAS11]

The White House lifted a 40-year-old ban on taking photos during public tours of the executive mansion on Wednesday, delighting tourists who immediately began posting pictures on social media. [Reuters]

The first phase of Louisville’s minimum wage increase went into effect Wednesday. [WFPL]

Now that Chris Christie is officially running for president, his record as governor of New Jersey will be getting a lot more scrutiny. As we reported with The Washington Post in April, there’s plenty to look at. [ProPublica]

The acting director of the General Assembly’s staffing and management arm won’t seek the permanent job. [Ronnie Ellis]

The good news for most Americans is that incomes have finally started to grow again. But the bad news is that the richest of the rich are still making off with far more gains, according to the latest data analysis by economist Emmanuel Saez. [ThinkProgress]

Senator Mitch McConnell is standing by his call to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol Rotunda. [WDRB]

The United States and Brazil unveil ambitious energy goals in a sign of growing co-operation after a spying scandal damaged ties two years ago. [BBC]

Kentucky State University has hired former Fayette County Public Schools official Vincent Mattox as the new assistant to the president for academic and school district outreach. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose bid for the Democratic nomination for president has drawn the largest crowds on the campaign trail, is raking in major money as well. [HuffPo]

Family Foundation Presses Wingate Over Conflict In Instant Racing Case

We’ve got a long-established hatred for the faux Family Foundation in Kentucky. But we haven’t shied away from reporting on both sides of the expanded gambling lawsuit in Kentucky.

So read this latest press release from the Family Foundation about a scandal that broke last year:

The Family Foundation voiced its objection yesterday to The Honorable Thomas Wingate’s continued role as judge in the Instant Racing case that is pending in Franklin Circuit Court.

“It’s a question of appearances,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, after the organization responded to the Judge’s question about whether he should recuse himself after his son, who is a law student, sought a summer job with one of the law firms advocating for the Instant Racing slot machines.

“Kentucky law explicitly states that any judge ‘shall disqualify himself in any proceeding . . . (e) Where he has knowledge of any circumstance in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.’ Clearly, if a judge’s son receives a lucrative job ‘his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’” said Cothran.

Attorneys favoring the slot-type machines insisted that the Judge remain on the case.

At issue in the case, is whether the Instant Racing machines are truly pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing or whether they are simply electronic slot machines. Documents recently uncovered suggest that wagering outcomes on the machines are determined by random number generators, which is the hallmark of slot machines. This contradicts representations to the Court and the public about how the devices work. Slot machines are illegal in Kentucky.

To date, hundreds of millions of dollars have been gambled on these machines and an entirely new casino-like facility with up to 1000 more machines is being set up in Lexington, adjacent to the University of Kentucky campus.

“There has been too much of a push to force these machines into operation while there is still absolutely no verdict as to whether they comply with Kentucky law,” said Cothran. “We need to get a clean and clear decision that is above reproach.”

It’s tough not to side with the FF folks on this one because the appearance of impropriety is so blatant.

Judge Wingate is still fighting, claiming there’s nothing to see here:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

But the FF is having none of it:


CLICK TO ENLARGE — PDF

If there really was no big deal, you’d think Wingate would step aside just to alleviate any concern.

The Downfall Of Jamie Comer Continues

Jamie Comer is lying again. He absolutely knew the effects of the bill. Quite a few people spelled it out for him. P.S. Yes, Rogers, McConnell & crew are now supporting Heiner. [H-L]

In the years since “Mission Accomplished,” some 149,053 civilians have been killed, compared to about 7,412 prior to the speech, according to the website Iraq Body Count. Since the speech, 4,637 military members in the Iraq War coalition led by the U.S. have lost their lives, versus 172 prior, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. As of September 2014, total U.S. expenditures on the war in Iraq totaled $815.8 billion, about 93 percent of which was spent after 2003. That cost is more than 16 times the Bush administration’s original projection. [HuffPo]

Truth is generally a casualty in political battles and there’s not an issue that’s suffered more wounds in this year’s Kentucky governor’s race than the Common Core academic standards that Kentucky adopted in 2010. [C-J/AKN]

Will the Supreme Court look behind the curtain of lethal injection? [The Intercept]

Adam Edelen needs to recuse himself immediately. Here’s why: he’s been asked to join the UofL Foundation board and once asked me for my opinion about it. I told him to run quickly away. But that means he’s got a conflict of interest. [WDRB]

When a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail left his Glock and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder of a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom stall, a CVC worker found the gun, according to a source familiar with the Jan. 29 incident and two other disturbing instances when Capitol Police left loaded firearms in problematic places. A 7- or 8-year-old child visiting the Capitol with his parents found the next loaded Glock lost by a dignitary protection officer, according to the source. A member of the security detail for John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, allegedly left the firearm in the bathroom of the Speaker’s Suite on March 24. [Roll Call]

It was a record-breaking 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs Racetrack which culminated as 123,763 fans, the highest attendance of all time, watched a memorable win by Lovely Maria. The prior attendance record was 116,046, set in 2010, during the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks. [Press Release]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a tough choice this week on how to move forward with a controversial bill that would allow Congress to review and vote on a nuclear deal with Iran. [The Hill]

Most eyes were fixed on the Kentucky Derby this weekend, but the Republican gubernatorial primary began last week to look as if it might be headed for its own photo finish. [Ronnie Ellis]

Her campaign barely three weeks old, Hillary Clinton already has been attacked by Republicans on everything from donations to her family’s charitable foundation, to her tenure as secretary of state and her ties to Wall Street. But her rivals, and the political action committees that support them, are treading more carefully on one incendiary subject: her age. [Reuters]

While previous media reports led to the return – or at least the documentation – of several military surplus items missing from the Glasgow Police Department, more than 100 such items remain unaccounted for, and fingers seem to be pointing at a former member of the GPD. [Glasgow Daily Times]

What the Kentucky Derby owes to China. If it weren’t for KFC’s giant Asian consumer base, the annual classic would be a much poorer event. [Politico]

The Fayette County Public Schools board voted Sunday to terminate its contract with superintendent search firm PROACT Search Inc. The board went into closed session shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday to discuss possible litigation against the search firm. [H-L]

The Tata group, one of India’s largest conglomerates, promised to be a good neighbor when it took on the job of building the nation’s first “ultra mega” coal-fired power plant. [HuffPo]

Some Guy Changed His Name To Gatewood Galbraith. For Real. Stupid Beams On HIGH.

First lady Jane Beshear says donors across the state contributed nearly $800,000 in money and supplies to the state’s 15 domestic violence shelters on Saturday. [H-L]

Fourteen federal student loan borrowers refusing to make their monthly payments to protest the U.S. Department of Education’s shoddy oversight of for-profit colleges met with senior government officials on Tuesday to share their stories and learn about the department’s plan to help them. [HuffPo]

Kentucky lottery sales continue to show mixed results, but the sale of instant tickets has been especially strong, the lottery corporation directors were told at a recent board meeting. [C-J/AKN]

Private-sector employers added 189,000 jobs in March, the first time in more than a year that monthly gains fell below 200,000, payroll processor ADP reported on Wednesday. [The Hill]

An Eastern Kentucky University has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging he was the victim of racial discrimination. [Richmond Register]

Membership in the United Auto Workers union rose by more than 12,000 people to 403,466 in 2014, the fifth consecutive year of small gains for the American union, according to an annual filing with the U.S. Department of Labor. [Reuters]

Controlling county clerk offices is a tricky game of estimating budgets, maintaining paperwork and managing all the county’s business, according to area clerks in northeast Kentucky. [Ashland Independent]

Undocumented immigrants who make it to college face a host of financial and logistical barriers. But they are dramatically more likely to succeed if they were beneficiaries of President Obama’s executive action program, according to a new Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education study. [ThinkProgress]

T.J. Samson Community Hospital’s impact on the community is huge, according to its CEO, spending nearly $73.6 million on employee wages and salaries and purchases of supplies and services in one year. [Glasgow Daily Times]

A number of messages to lawmakers purporting to be from average constituents who oppose the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules don’t appear to have come from people within their districts, according to the company that manages the technology for some House members. The notes have identical wording to those organized by a group called American Commitment, which is led by Phil Kerpen, a former top aide at the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity. [Politico]

This year’s theme for the Governor’s Derby Exhibit is ‘celebration.’ Two local (Morehead) artists now will be celebrating their selection to have their creations displayed in the Capitol Rotunda. [The Morehead News]

The US has pledged to tackle climate change by cutting its carbon emissions 26-28% by 2025. [BBC]

The stupid is thick these days. Saying he hopes to “warm” the grave of Gatewood Galbraith, a Pulaski County man has filed to run for governor as an independent after legally changing his name in honor of the late perennial candidate. [H-L]

Former Louisiana prosecutor A.M. “Marty” Stroud III made a mistake 30 years ago that cost an innocent man named Glenn Ford nearly half a lifetime of freedom. Now, Stroud is sharing his story, both as a cautionary tale and as a call to action for ending the death penalty. [HuffPo]

No, The Presidency Is Not Some Crown

“I’m going to move on my casino bill and ask for hearings on it during the interim. It’s part of my personal agenda,” Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said after the 2015 session ended. [H-L]

A U.S. district judge in Texas on Thursday issued a stay to halt the U.S. Labor Department from implementing a rule that would expand medical leave protections for same-sex couples, saying the move impinges on the rights of states that ban gay marriage. [HuffPo]

The most fascinating vote of the entire 2015 legislature happened a few minutes after 3 a.m. on the final morning of the session when a wide-ranging group of Democrats and Republicans banded together in the House to beat back a leadership bill. [C-J/AKN]

The state of the U.S. labor market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike. [Reuters]

Democrats are apparently seething over this one. A Louisville woman has been appointed to serve on the newly created National Women’s History Museum Commission. Bridget Bush, a lawyer, was appointed by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. [WLEX18]

Senators approved a budget amendment Thursday that would give married same-sex couples access to Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. [The Hill]

Everybody is freaking out… President Barack Obama will be coming to Louisville April 2. [WHAS11]

The House Ethics Committee is launching a full-scale investigation into whether Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield improperly aided his wife’s lobbying work for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. [Politico]

W. Keith Hall is apparently doing everything he can to stall the inevitable. A former Kentucky lawmaker facing a bribery charge has asked that his trial be postponed following a guilty plea by a co-defendant. [WLKY]

A man who won an auction to shoot an endangered black rhino in Namibia has been given a US permit to import the trophy if he kills one. [BBC]

The frustration of one-lane paths along U.S. 60 in Summit won’t last much beyond next weekend, although the overall project will continue for months to come. [Ashland Independent]

New rules put forward by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would have a major impact on the high-cost loan industry. But if history is any guide, lenders will quickly find some loopholes. [ProPublica]

The Cave-In-Rock Ferry is resuming operation in western Kentucky between Crittenden County, Kentucky, and Hardin County, Illinois. [H-L]

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke about his potential run for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, seeming to take a shot at the idea of another Clinton in the White House. “Let’s be honest here, the presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people,” O’Malley said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” [HuffPo]

Yep, Scott Alexander Is Still A Hot EKY Mess

Alison Daddy’s Name Grimes is really mad that the Republican Party of Kentucky might have a caucus for Rand Paul. Check out this statement her office released Saturday evening: “The decision by the Republican Party of Kentucky to take steps toward holding a presidential caucus next year could create potential chaos in our electoral process and severely undermine the integrity of the Commonwealth’s elections. Under Kentucky’s current primary system, all eligible voters are afforded protections to ensure that they are able to meaningfully participate. As the Commonwealth’s chief election official, I have serious concerns as to whether or not these protections – if in place at all – would be effective for a party caucus. Over the coming days and months, I will continue to monitor the situation. In the meantime, I call on the Republican Party of Kentucky to provide details on how all their voters would be able to participate and how the party intends to uphold the integrity of the process.” [Press Release]

We tweeted about this last week but here’s a story. The Kentucky Public Service Commission said Friday that it has approved a proposal by East Kentucky Power Cooperative to move tons of coal ash away from an aging power plant in Clark County. [H-L]

Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, became the object of global ridicule recently when he sauntered onto the floor of the world’s greatest deliberative body with what he declared was persuasive evidence climate change was a hoax. In his hands was a snowball. Inhofe is not some backbench member of the upper chamber, but is in fact the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, with jurisdiction over the allegedly non-existent climate problem. And so it may have been deeply disturbing for a man with so much power over the fate of the planet to display such stunning ignorance. [HuffPo]

The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau has formed a task force to see if it can attract tourism-related business involving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. [C-J/AKN]

The United States government on Friday urged the Supreme Court to strike down bans on same-sex couples’ marriages across the country, concluding, “There is no adequate justification for such a discriminatory and injurious exercise of state power.” [BuzzFeed]

A U.S. Supreme Court decision about whether patients who get insurance through federally administered exchanges should have their costs subsidized is not expected to have an impact on Kynect, Kentucky’s insurance exchange. [Business First]

A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that about two-thirds of Americans believe men are generally paid more than women, a finding that suggests that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s message on pay inequality could resonate broadly with Americans should she run for president in 2016. [Reuters]

Braving temperatures in the 30s on a recent Wednesday morning, the 25 or so people bunched in the Kroger parking lot in west Louisville had plenty of grounds for complaint. [WFPL]

No, the banks aren’t losing. A surprising new line of argument has emerged: Financial regulation is working, Dodd-Frank is one of the major accomplishments of the Obama administration, and the banks are even “humbled.” [ProPublica]

The Perry County Fiscal Court and County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander are under fire this week following a lawyer’s allegations that they acted “erroneously.” [Hazard Herald]

Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks don’t include a single member of House Republican leadership — a point that isn’t lost on congressional black leaders. [Politico]

Despite a second snow-shortened week, the General Assembly passed some major legislation last week, including a bill to strip Anheuser-Bush of two beer distributorships, another to deregulate the telecommunications industry and one to help construct a health research facility at the University of Kentucky. [Ronnie Ellis]

One of the Anti-Obamacare plaintiffs finally appeared in public. But he refuses to say anything about the case that could strip millions of their health coverage. [Mother Jones]

Friday marked the 27th day that public school classes have been canceled as a result of snow and ice this school year in Perry County. [H-L]

The World Bank, created to fight poverty, has admitted that it’s failed to follow its own rules for protecting the poor people swept aside by dams, roads and other big projects it bankrolls. [HuffPo]

Kentuckians Know Clean Coal Is Not A Real Thing

The Kentucky Court of Appeals says a company that once managed 125,000 Medicaid recipients must pay the state damages for leaving the contract early. [H-L]

Insurers aren’t required to encrypt consumers’ data under a 1990s federal law that remains the foundation for health care privacy in the Internet age — an omission that seems striking in light of the major cyberattack against Anthem. [HuffPo]

With its biggest majority in history, Republicans in the Kentucky Senate are running roughshod over the Democrats in the chamber, sometimes stripping them of their ability to even offer amendments to bills that have been deemed necessary by the chamber’s GOP leaders. [C-J/AKN]

HSBC’s Swiss banking arm helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, doling out bundles of untraceable cash and advising clients on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities, according to a huge cache of leaked secret bank account files. [The Guardian]

EquiLottery CEO and inventor of the patented lottery game with the same name, Brad Cummings, will be testifying on behalf of SB74 in Frankfort, Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 10 (that’s today). The bill, which supports a lottery game like EquiLottery based on the outcome of live horse racing, will be heard in front of the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee at 10 am in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex and is open to the general public. [Press Release]

The Energy Department’s decision last week to pull the plug on a major “clean coal” demonstration project stands as the latest setback for a technology that only recently held promise as a key piece of the United States’ fight against climate change. [The Hill]

When Lucky 7’s Internet Café opened on 13th Street in January, many observers were betting that the gambling establishment’s life in this city would be a brief one. [Ashland Independent]

Law enforcement cannot indefinitely forbid Yahoo Inc from revealing a grand jury subpoena that seeks subscriber account information, a U.S. judge ruled, because doing so would violate the company’s free speech rights. [Reuters]

It was a busy legislative week on one end of the capitol during the second week of the 2015 General Assembly, as the Republican Senate passed a series of bills its leaders call their priorities – most of which have little chance of success in the Democratic-controlled House. [Ronnie Ellis]

A former Chicago psychiatrist who was the nation’s top prescriber of the most powerful and riskiest antipsychotic drug intends to plead guilty to a federal felony charge of taking kickbacks from its manufacturer in exchange for prescriptions, court records show. [ProPublica]

Pro-tip: Wanna be taken seriously as a candidate for State Auditor? Maybe don’t rail on an on about “Obamacare” — something you know absolutely about — and focus on state finances like KRS and KTRS. [Mike Harmon]

Congress’ vote on authorizing force against ISIL will let Graham, Cruz, Rand and Rubio stake out their cases on foreign policy. [Politico]

Animal welfare groups say the free-roaming population of horses in eastern Kentucky has grown too large, exposing them to malnourishment and conflicts with people. [H-L]

House Republicans pushed through two bills this week designed to undermine key environmental and financial regulations by jamming federal courts with lawsuits. [HuffPo]