Jerry Lundergan’s Good Old Boy Mess Is Once Again Center Stage

During her three political campaigns, including an $18 million run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes reported paying $111,831 to Lexington companies owned by her father, former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan, and $41,745 more in direct payments to him and other family members, for various services. [John Cheves]

As Sen. Turd Cruz (R-Tex.) campaigns across the Granite State ahead of next Tuesday’s first-in-the nation primary, he’s changing rhetoric in an attempt to expand his base and attract libertarian-leaning supporters following Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Cookie Tree) exit from the race this week. [HuffPo]

Conservationists have pounced on a bill that sought to allow motorized all-terrain vehicles on the Pine Mountain State ScenicTrail that’s being developed for backpacking and primitive camping along 120 miles of scenic Eastern Kentucky. [C-J/AKN]

The State Department Inspector General has found that classified emails were received on the personal accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior aides to his successor, Condoleezza Rice. [The Hill]

The new head of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet doesn’t expect any short-term rebound in the state’s struggling coal industry. In his first appearance before the state Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, Secretary Charles Snavely told senators the outlook wasn’t good over the next five years. [WFPL]

U.S. President Barack Obama will launch a long-shot bid next week to impose a $10-a-barrel tax on crude oil that would fund the overhaul of the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure, the White House said on Thursday. [Reuters]

House Democrats proved willing to compromise on one abortion-related bill in a critical election year, but there were signs Friday they aren’t prepared to do it a second time. [Ronnie Ellis]

US presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has seen a surge in high-profile endorsements, after a surprisingly strong finish in the Iowa caucuses. [BBC]

A group of students from Clark-Moores Middle School will be traveling to Frankfort Tuesday where they will meet with legislators and advocate for the passage of Senate Bill 33, which will make training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) a requirement for graduation in Kentucky schools. [Richmond Register]

If U.S. and British negotiators have their way, MI5, the British domestic security service, could one day go directly to American companies like Facebook or Google with a wiretap order for the on-line chats of British suspects in a counterterrorism investigation. [WaPo]

It’s been no secret that Morehead City Council has been mulling the thoughts of building a joined police and fire station in the near future. [The Morehead News]

Really? It takes “insiders” to know that Marco Rubio crashed and burned? [Politico]

An ongoing cultural battle between coal mining and environmental groups played out in a Senate hearing Wednesday over an Obama administration proposal to mitigate the impacts of coal mining activity on streams. [H-L]

The United States has to reduce greenhouse emissions to less than a quarter of what they were in 2005 to meet its commitment under the Paris climate agreement. [HuffPo]

Budget Reaction Still Going Strong

Maybe not the best move for Overly because it’ll be a terrible year. She’ll shoulder much of the blame for down ticket losses, along with Jim Gray. Even though it won’t truly be her fault. The Kentucky Democratic Party on Saturday chose state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris as its new chairwoman for what promises to be a tumultuous election year. [John Cheves]

Both the Democratic and Republican races are close contests in Iowa, and pollsters say surprises are likely. [HuffPo]

A massive surplus of $500 million that is anticipated in the Kentucky public employee health insurance fund is part of Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to restore financial stability to Kentucky’s badly underfunded public pension funds. [C-J/AKN]

Turd Cruz is beating Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) in the race for the hearts — and endorsements — of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. [The Hill]

The city of Ashland is now preparing for a mayoral primary this spring after three prospective candidates officially filed to run for office Tuesday. [Ashland Independent]

The United States cannot solve any problems in the Middle East without Iran’s help and should drop its “hostile” stance toward Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

The final tally of candidates filing to become the next district judge serving Barren and Metcalfe counties is six. [Glasgow Daily Times]

You win brownie points if you can correctly identify the “operatives” mentioned in this story about Jim Gray running against Rand Paul. [Politico]

Reaction to Gov. Matt Bevin’s first budget proposal was mixed with Republicans approving and Democratic lawmakers asking for more details and expressing concerns. [The Morehead News]

Voters have the chance to choose one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history. [NY Times]

Former Kentucky state Sen. Georgia Powers has died. Powers was the first African-American and first woman elected to the Kentucky Senate, where she served for 21 years beginning in 1968. [WFPL]

This year’s presidential campaign has proved to be a bleak season for mainstream conservative candidates, a story of frustration, rejection and disappointment. But will that be the end of the story, or are revival and redemption still possible? [WaPo]

Frankfort is back to its old tricks. Fighting to restrict abortion access while ignoring children after they’re born. Everybody is pro-life until birth. Then it’s every child for itself. They kill child welfare programs, oppose early childhood education, prevent addicted mothers from accessing welfare benefits, kill the expansion of Medicaid. Then they wonder why so many turn to crime, drugs, suicide. [H-L]

President Barack Obama plans to visit a U.S. mosque for the first time during his presidency on Wednesday. [HuffPo]

Can Rand Make It Til The KY Caucus?

With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Kentucky junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) returned to the prime-time Republican debate stage Thursday to make his closing argument to voters. [H-L]

Republicans are determined to push on with their investigation of Planned Parenthood, even after a Texas grand jury cleared the organization of wrongdoing on Monday and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who targeted the family planning provider in a series of undercover videos. [HuffPo]

Kentucky’s main funding stream for public schools escaped cutbacks in Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal Tuesday, but if approved by the legislature, colleges and universities would face reductions and a new effort to tie funding to performance. [C-J/AKN]

What is being done to fight heroin and prescription drug abuse in hard-hit states like New Hampshire? What can Congress do to help? Lawmakers tackle the issue. [NPR]

At least one new face will be added to the Russell City Council after all but one council member filed for re-election in the upcoming nonpartisan municipal race. [Ashland Independent]

Decades before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party she was years ahead of her time. So why don’t more people know about her? [BBC]

Metcalfe County magistrates adopted on second reading an ordinance Tuesday morning adding a $35 annual membership charge/subscriber fee to county residents’ property tax bills. The fee is being levied in order to provide fire protection services for the county. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Donald Trump has caused Republican leaders to shudder at the impact the bombastic New Yorker could have on down-ticket races. Democrats, however, see only potential for election wins. [Politico]

Here’s yet another take on Jim Gray. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat, on Tuesday announced he will run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Rand Paul. [Ronnie Ellis]

A U.S. appeals court heard arguments on Wednesday over whether a high school in Virginia should be ordered to allow a transgendered student to use the boys’ bathroom, even though he was born a biological female. [Reuters]

Reminder: This is one of the guys Bevin trusts to cut 9% from the budget at his discretion. [Page One]

The White House on Wednesday said it has “concerns” with many of the provisions in a wide-ranging energy bill being debated in the Senate. [The Hill]

The homeless count was completed in Louisville and let’s just cut to the chase: this is hugely disappointing. Compassionate City needs a bit more compassion. [The ‘Ville Voice]

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama promised to unite Washington and the nation behind progressive change. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton mocked him. [HuffPo]

Need cheap mobile phone service? Maybe even for a backup cell phone? I’m talking $6/mo cheap? Use our Ting referral code and we’ll all get a sweet credit. You get $25 — enough for a couple months of service to determine whether you like it. Both CDMA and GSM options. For worriers: no, you don’t get identified to us if you use our link… so please consider letting us know if you do! [Ting]

It’s Frankfort Tidbit Update Time

Adam Edelen should take the KDP chairmanship.

Stop asking people, Adam, and just do it.

Unless you’re in another nervous sweat over talking out of both sides of your mouth about members of the executive committee? I can assure you no one outside of that bunch of elderly good old boys cares. Just like no one will care that you’ve publicly praised a racist fearmonger (John David Dyche).

If you don’t take the job, you can’t expect to have much of a political career. Gonna need to leave some of your drunk friends behind, though.

The Dale Emmons/Alison Daddy’s Name Grimes/Jerry Lundergan/Jonathan Hurst crew involved in Jim Gray’s race are already alienating people. It’ll be like 2014 all over again. MIA candidate, bitter asshole staffers, a lot of money and a lot more disappointment.

Unless something changes quickly. (Spoiler alert: nothing will change)

State Rep. Chris Harris, a man many credit with taking down W. Keith Hall’s regime, got his open records bill (HB 80) unanimously released from committee this week.

Because he’s pro-transparency and anti-corruption, he’s being primaried by a Ray Ray Jones/UMG-supported guy. And on the Republican side? UMG has a candidate alleged to be funded by Leonard Lawson set to take Harris on.

This is why Eastern Kentucky can’t have nice things.

Hearing from Frankfort insiders that Jamie Comer’s hemp efforts may end up being soured… by Jamie Comer.

The hot gossip (it’s not really gossip) is that Democrats have been denied hemp approval left and right, while Republicans aligned with Comer sailed through the approval process. Not sure that’s a big deal, really. Probably much more good old boy back scratching than partisanship. Because at least one longtime Democrat with ties to illegal cultivation and alleged drug smuggling from the Julian Carroll era was granted a permit. His name’s prominently displayed on state government websites even though he should be nowhere near hemp. Comer knew it at the time but turned a blind eye because of the guy’s ties to Woody Harrelson. Allegedly. Cough.

Flash back to this October 22 story:

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant — bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said.

-SNIP-

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

“We were very leery — I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

One of the big partners of GenCanna? State Rep. Jonathan Shell’s relative.

Why does that matter? Shell sits on the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.

Consider these minutes from July 1, 2015. That’s a lot of money to be throwing around to hemp. Particularly while Shell’s relatives are knee-deep in it. Smells a lot like a CBD monopoly in the works.

Meanwhile, Comer’s telling people who have been shut out that he has no idea what’s going on, blaming Ryan Quarles left and right. Reality? Comer started this mess. And he controlled the secretive hemp committee that no one knows anything about – the group of people doling out permits.

Comer’s crew ought to back up a taste before they ruin it for everybody.

P.S. Hearing there’s a freshman state senator (R) about to be (already?) permitted despite never having farmed a day in his life. Andy Beshear’s office is gonna have its work cut out for it.

Is The Budget Hype Dying Down Yet?

The summer playground at Lake Cumberland took a major hit from winter over the weekend, with the weight of ice and snow from Friday’s storm damaging or destroying covers over hundreds of boat slips, according to marina operators. [H-L]

Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped at a chance to talk about mental health care during a presidential town hall event in Iowa hosted by CNN on Monday. [HuffPo]

Every year, hundreds of volunteers bundle up and head to hotels, emergency shelters, camps and soup kitchens, determined to answer two questions: how many people are homeless in the Louisville area and who are they? [C-J/AKN]

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued “an urgent call to action” Tuesday to overhaul the nation’s federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade. [NPR]

Wanna read/watch one of the dumbest things out of Jim Waters and the Bluegrass Circlejerk yet? Here he is spewing misinformation about Kentucky’s broadband initiative. Leave it to the rich, fat, white Republicans to keep the Commonwealth in the dark ages. Spoiler alert: municipal broadband works. [WAVE3]

Trent Lott and Tom Daschle make an unlikely pair. Trent is gregarious, talkative and loud. Tom is retiring, mild-mannered and quiet. Interview them together and their differences are pronounced. But what makes them almost unheard of as a couple is that Lott is a Republican and Daschle is a Democrat. Specifically they are both former leaders of their respective parties in the US Senate. [BBC]

With the new year comes the continued challenge for area nonprofits to serve as many families and residents in need as possible. To energize those efforts, employees of Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company are lending a hand. Coupled with financial support from the LG&E and KU Foundation, the utilities’ voluntary employee-giving campaign, Power of One, raised more than $1.7 million in contributions. [Richmond Register]

A Nebraska lawmaker wants his state to join the movement to tear down one of the most harmful components of the conservative welfare reforms passed into law in the mid-1990s. [ThinkProgress]

The Russell Area Technology Center is ready for a new generation of vocational students with completion of a $1.2 million renovation. [Ashland Independent]

Cuba’s tourism industry is under unprecedented strain and struggling to meet demand with record numbers of visitors arriving a year after detente with the United States renewed interest in the Caribbean island. [Reuters]

Newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin delivered a “sober” budget message to a joint session of the General Assembly, telling them he will cut $650 million from the current budget. [Ronnie Ellis]

The religious loonies are racist as hell, apparently. Donald Trump’s support among white evangelicals stands at 37 percent, rising 5 points in one week, according to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll released early Tuesday. [The Hill]

As snow piled up outside, Kelly Gibson was thrilled to see a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy waiting for her at the end of her nursing shift Friday afternoon at Shriners Hospital for Children. [H-L]

Noam Chomsky, the noted radical and MIT professor emeritus, said the Republican Party has become so extreme in its rhetoric and policies that it poses a “serious danger to human survival.” [HuffPo]

Adam Edelen: Calm Down, Beyonce!

Will Jim Gray beat Rand Paul? Probably not with his current team that consists almost entirely of Conway people. Stranger things have happened, though. [H-L]

When Diana Andino first started researching medical school — something she had been working toward for years — she hit a brick wall. [HuffPo]

A religious group building a massive Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Kentucky has won a legal battle over the state’s withdrawal of a potential tax incentive worth millions. [C-J/AKN]

Of all things for Adam Edelen to attack, he chose to hit Rand Paul on foreign policy. That may be the only thing most Democrats can stomach from Paul. He’s also wrong about sexual orientation. Anti-gay discrimination is alive and well in Kentucky. Hell, the Kentucky Democratic Party runs so quickly away from the gays that it’s alarming. We can all agree that Rand Paul (R-Cookie Tree) is a delusional troll. But Adam Edelen needs to check his straight, white, male privilege once in a while before spouting off in another sweaty rant. [Roll Call]

State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has re-enacted restrictions on bird sales and movement in Kentucky to protect Kentucky’s poultry industry and bird population from the avian influenza outbreak in southern Indiana that federal officials announced on Friday. [Richmond Register]

For a variety of reasons, the nomination of Donald Trump would probably not be in the best interest of the Republican Party. [Nate Silver]

SURPRISE! Johnny Bell, sexual harasser extraordinaire, has finally gotten the hint. [Ronnie Ellis]

A federal appeals court upheld the government’s new coal dust exposure rule for coal miners Monday, rejecting industry challenges to it. [The Hill]

As if people in Eastern Kentucky aren’t taxed enough. Rowan Fiscal Court could be looking at raising the occupational tax by a half percent to help pay for the new Rowan County Detention Center. [The Morehead News]

Wall Street edged higher on Tuesday morning, driven by strong earnings reports and recovering oil prices, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting and Apple’s results. [Reuters]

Glasgow City Attorney Rich Alexander, in a letter responding to a complaint from the Glasgow Daily Times, said he incorrectly relied upon an exemption of the Open Records Act as grounds for closing a portion of a police sergeant’s disciplinary hearing last Monday. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The Supreme Court rescued an administration-supported rule that promotes electricity conservation, handing a big victory to environmentalists and President Barack Obama. [Politico]

Barbara Kleine, director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries’ office, points to a to-do list on the wall of her office: It’s a couple of feet long and takes a minimum of 18 months to accomplish. Printed on it is every permit, form and check that refugees must pass on their way to becoming settled in a new home. [H-L]

Six years ago, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC. It is not a happy anniversary. I remember waiting for the ruling and opening it up on my computer: when I finally read it, I didn’t want to believe that the Court had gone as far as it had and been so careless with our democracy. [HuffPo]

Stay Safe During The Snowpocalypse!

Matt Bevin is asking state workers for their input on his budget plan. So he can promptly ignore their concerns. [H-L]

Vice President Joe Biden got visibly heated while discussing the importance of LGBT rights on Wednesday. [HuffPo]

Louisville has been dealing with this stupid mess for years. The JBS pork processing plant in Butchertown stepped out in front by agreeing to make sure all trucks using its large parking lot be equipped with California-compliant refrigeration units that limit soot and other toxic exhaust from burning diesel fuel. [C-J/AKN]

A BBC journalist with dual British-Iranian nationality has been prevented from flying to the US after falling foul of changes to visa rules. [BBC]

White ones, black ones, polkadot or pink ones, the Dressing Room doesn’t care, just as long as they can help residents in need. [Ashland Independent]

Big spending by campaigns and super PACs has clearly not translated into front-runner status for either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, according to the latest data on cumulative advertising buys. [Politico]

Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty said he will decide by the end of business Friday whether to sustain the recommendation of the police chief he hired last year and fire a Glasgow Police Department sergeant who is charged with several administrative violations, all related to a seminude photo and text message exchange between two other officers that were later sent to him. [Glasgow Daily Times]

While Amnesty’s latest report doesn’t necessarily rule out the Peshmerga as reliable allies, it might cast a gray cloud over American’s political pandering. [ThinkProgress]

Just a reminder of what Julie Raque Adams has been doing to poor women in Kentucky. While she flits about Frankfort talking about how great she is for wealthy, Republican women? Poor people are suffering as a direct consequense of her imposing her antiquated religious beliefs on the Commonwealth. [Page One]

Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended President Obama’s recent executive actions on guns Wednesday in the face of fierce Republican criticism. [The Hill]

Kentucky’s state parks are offering assistance during the winter storm to people who may be stranded or otherwise need lodging. [WKYT & Press Releases]

Demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ meeting on Wednesday, protesting the killing of a Chicago teenager by police and the lead-tainted water supply of Flint, Michigan. [Reuters]

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a bill that would crack down on Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to the U.S. as the debate turned into a referendum on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his policies. [H-L]

From the Department of Things Ken Ham Wouldn’t Understand… Researchers are now pretty certain there’s a ninth planet in the solar system. [HuffPo]