Nearly eight years ago, State Representative Greg Stumbo (D-Drink Yer Juice, Shelby) was plotting to take over the role of speaker of Kentucky’s state house and we were questioning his ethics way back then. He, Martha Jane King and other Democrats were scheming with mega donors and it was all downhill from there.
So you can imagine how fascinated we were to discover that State Representative Jeff Hoover (R-Gay Panic) is plotting to take over the speakership this weekend. It’s all Republicans can think about, all they can talk about. People like Scott Jennings and State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Hey Gurl) are nearly in tears because they’re so excited about the non-existent power they think they’re going to wield.
That’s all highly entertaining. The cyclical nature of Kentucky’s corrupt state legislature is apparently so intoxicating that it leads to extreme political delusion.
But wait! It gets better. Our minds have been blown.
The Wall Street Journal came to Frankfort to cover a presentation by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on corruption and ethics.
Here’s a taste:
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan who recently secured the convictions of two top New York lawmakers, on Wednesday said the blame for corruption lies not only with bad actors but also with the “good people” who don’t try to stop it.
“People knew, and did nothing,” said Mr. Bharara, referring to the corruption cases in Albany during a speech before the Kentucky Legislature. “This, perhaps, is the most unfortunate feature of the status quo in my home state—the deafening silence of the many individuals who…saw something and said nothing.”
Mr. Bharara’s speech at the Kentucky General Assembly’s annual ethics training was his first before a full state legislature. It came at the request of Kentucky state officials.
He told the legislators that federal law doesn’t require an explicit quid-pro-quo, that it doesn’t matter if the official act was good for the community, or if it was done for a friend.
In Kentucky in the early 1990s, more than a dozen lawmakers and lobbyists were convicted on an array of charges stemming from a wide-ranging federal probe into bribery and extortion in connection with horse-racing legislation and hospital regulations.
In response to the charges, Kentucky passed a package of ethics laws and restrictions on lobbying, rules that continue to be refined. The state’s ethics laws, some of the strictest in the country, include what is known as a “no cup of coffee” rule—lobbyists aren’t allowed to buy a cup of coffee for a lawmaker.
If only those ethics laws worked…
One of the strangest STOP THE PRESSES! moments in the story is when Martha Jane King scores a quote:
Martha Jane King, a state representative from south-central Kentucky, said she hadn’t known Mr. Bharara’s name before this week. “But he sounds awesome,” she said.
Ms. King, a Democrat, said Mr. Bharara’s remarks reminded her that lawmakers can sometimes lose their way, and “little by little, they step over the line.”
You remember her, right? If you’re an outsider, Martha Jane King is a good old boy Democrat with quite a history of skirting ethics laws. From ignoring campaign finance regulation to covering up one of the nastiest legislative sex scandals in the country, she’s done it all.
Here’s a brief look back:
- More Illegal Alcohol-Fueled Messes in Frankfort [March 26, 2009]
- Frankfort Bigots Push Their Hatred On You [March 12, 2010]
- Dear Democrats: Your Actions Speak Quite Loudly [August 9, 2012]
- King & Pendleton Skirting Campaign Finance Law [August 27, 2012]
- Come On, Martha Jane King, At Least TRY To Win [September 10, 2012]
- Would Martha Jane King Exploit Military Members? [September 17, 2012]
- What’s The Latest For Democrat Martha Jane King? [October 2, 2012]
- Democrats Still Skirting Campaign Finance Law [October 8, 2012]
- Don’t Pretend Democrats Don’t Play Extremely Dirty [October 29, 2012]
- We’re Being Transparent For Martha Jane King [November 1, 2012]
- Martha Jane King Pretends To Be Clean, Innocent [November 2, 2012]
- King Supporters Most Certainly Behind Smear Push [November 12, 2012]
- Something Here Smells A Little Funny, Martha Jane [November 13, 2012]
- Let’s Talk About HB279 For A Moment, Folks [March 21, 2013]
- Bitter Rep. King Meddles In Republican Primary [May 28, 2014]
- Who Knew About The Will Coursey Scandal? [June 10, 2014]
- The Will Coursey Scandal Gets REALLY Deep [June 26, 2014]
Eye-opening, isn’t it? Easy to see why our minds were blown by her quote in the WSJ article.
Martha Jane isn’t the worst part of the story. Not even the most embarrassing.
Check out the remarks from Republican State Senator John Schickel:
Sen. John Schickel, a Republican from northern Kentucky who opposes the state’s ethics laws because he said they “tend to inhibit freedom of speech,” said he enjoyed Mr. Bharara’s remarks. But Mr. Schickel noted that Mr. Bharara was “not elected by anyone” and is “telling [Kentucky] state legislators making $35,000 a year and working other jobs how to be ethical.”
They make $35,000 for something like six-eight weeks of work. Most legislators, despite what they love to claim, do little beyond attend occasional meetings when they’re not in Frankfort. Some do, sure, but most do absolutely nothing. Otherwise, teachers, nurses and the like wouldn’t have time to serve.
Don’t forget that on top of that mountain of easy money sits the unbelievably generous pension that state legislators receive. Pensions that can’t even be taken away from them if they commit cold-blooded murder.
Won’t somebody think of the poor, overworked, underpaid state legislators?!
Now you outsiders know what Kentuckians are up against when the legislature is in session in Frankfort. Democratic Party good old boys attempt to portray themselves as kind-hearted grandparents. And Republican Party lunatics spew nonsense about ethics laws being a violation of free speech.
This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.