More Corruption: McConnell Aide Becomes Tax Lobbyist

McConnell in a BowtieLesley Elliott, a former legislative aide to Mitch McConnell, has been hired by travel conglomerate Expedia. Why? To lobby Washington for “tax issues.”

It’s nothing new for McConnell staffers to get paid millions for knowing Mitch (remember Hunter Bates?) but is it really a good idea for his former employees to be out and about lobbying like this at a time when he’s done nothing but scream about taxation? At a time when he’s about to have the campaign battle of his lifetime?

Mitch’s bowtie must be on a little tight these days. Jeez.

News Propaganda Update Dept

What? You’ve gotta be kidding. Greg Stumbo considering a job in the Environmental Protection Cabinet? We seem to recall a little incident with LEO where Stumbo had some controversial things to say about mountaintop removal that certainly wouldn’t fly with anyone who cares about the environment. Not a chance that’d be easy for anyone to swallow. Also interesting that Stumbo and Luallen (who is quite reactive and wary-sounding) snap at each other constantly, isn’t it? Oh– the story is about Cassaro, not those two. [H-L]

Anti-GOP sentiment hurting financially? McConnell and the NRSC are worried about 2008 because their fundraising numbers are a nightmare. McConnell has a mountain of cash but the rest of the senate Republicans are suffering as they helplessly watch Democrats out raise them by tens of millions. [CBS]

Bush visits, causes traffic jam. George Dubya was in New Albany yesterday to discuss “serious problems” but really spent his time on stage attacking Democrats with every breath. A lot could be accomplished if this lame duck gave up the rhetoric to actually do something. Making sure his rich friends get richer is too high on his priority list for that to happen, though. [C-J]

Making nice? Boone county Republicans are reaching out the Beshear administration. County leaders have been tight with Ernie Fletcher and his appointees, allowing ready-made lines of communication and revenue. What’s positive, though, is that these same people are reaching out to Beshear and are speaking positively in the press about being able to forge strong working relationships. Boone Countians should be proud of their leaders for being able to put aside political differences. [Community Press]

McConnell lost touch with constituency? Of course. Is Michael Cassaro the man to take him on? Obviously not. Cassaro, while he may be a good guy, hasn’t made an effort to connect with Democratic Party leaders, hasn’t had hands-on experience with the political game and has recently contributed to people like Jack Wood and Ernie Fletcher. Doesn’t bode well for a candidacy. He’s a Gatewood in the making and that may be why he’s given money to Galbraith in the past. [C-J]

Trouble at GLI?

Things may not be as rosy as they seem at Greater Louisville Inc these days. GLI recently endorsed the Libraries Yes tax increase as worthwhile and beneficial to the community. The group’s president and CEO Joe Reagan has said the 21-member GLI executive committee unanimously decided to make the endorsement. But the Courier-Journal proves not everyone is on-board with the decision.

Bill Stone, a prominent Louisville businessman on GLI’s legislative steering committee, says not everyone supports the endorsement and refers to GLI’s decision as “top-down.” Stone went on to say GLI broke from their policy of opposing new taxes, saying the group’s endorsement doesn’t represent the members of GLI.

As the C-J story loosely points out, many Louisville residents are incensed that the city’s largest corporations won’t be paying the library tax– the very corporations pushing for the increase. State law exempts companies like Churchill Downs, LG&E, Insight Communications and AT&T from local net-profits taxes because they pay “other kinds of state and federal taxes.”

Not exactly a great way to motivate voters if those pushing for the tax won’t have to pay it.

Deep Thoughts with Mike Duncan

From the McConnell Money Men Make it Big Dept

Kentucky Democrats could learn a lot from Republican National Committee Chairman (and Kentuckian) Mike Duncan. He appeared on KET’s One to One with Bill Goodman this week to discuss his role as the RNC’s operations big dog. He’s a man who is all business and no play. Got his start as a young man (something Democrats are only recently beginning to grasp) and was groomed into being a national leader. He’s continuing the process of recruiting and involving young people from across the country today. On that note: wouldn’t it be interesting if “young” in Kentucky’s Democratic politics didn’t mean mid-to-late 30s?

Duncan blamed Democrats for changing political rules and ruining the game. Not sure what world he’s living in, but, uh, ever heard of gerrymandering in Texas? Tom DeLay? Constantly changing polling locations in Louisville’s more diverse neighborhoods? Just wondering. Cause it hasn’t been the Democrats screwing things up the past eight years.

He also made it clear that the scary liberals are flip-flopping hypocrites who are inevitably taking over. Great to know.

On Ernie Fletcher: All puppies and rainbows. He saved billions of poor people from taxes, killed Kentucky’s deficit– which he said was either $300 million or $1 billion– he didn’t know (how could he not? He’s the flipping RNC Chairman), and killed all the gays because God told him to.

Toward the end of the show Goodman made a quip about having to provide equal time to DNC Chairman Howard Dean because Duncan went on too long babbling about the big, bad Democrats. Call us crazy but wouldn’t that be the just and legal thing to do, KET?

On a personal note: What is it with Republicans who can’t say Democratic when referring to candidates? This weird grammatical mistake isn’t demeaning to Democrats as some Republicans believe. It makes Republicans appear uneducated if not a bit ignorant. Same goes for Democrats. One Kentucky Democratic Party official referred to the KDP as the “Democrat Party” while in Louisville last week. Sum1 needs to learn these peeps some spellin. Especially if they’re appearing on television or speaking before a crowd.

Breaking: Campaign Finance Violations – Louisville Library

A complaint has been filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance against those responsible for the Libraries Yes! tax proposal in Louisville:

  • Craig Buthod, Director, Louisville Free Public Library
  • Mary Griffith, Chair, Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, Inc.
  • Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, Inc.
  • Libraries Yes!, PIC

The complaint, filed by general counsel of the anti-tax side, alleges four serious violations of Kentucky finance law/KRS 121 including:

  1. printing and distribution of yard signs without required disclaimers
  2. distribution of advocacy materials without proper disclaimers,
  3. use of government employees for campaign purposes on business time
  4. mailing materials which directly circumvent campaign finance reporting requirements as independent expenditures.

Click here for a copy of the complaint filed with KREF.

Sources tell us that Ernie Fletcher is expected to make a statement in opposition to the Library campaign. Sen. Dan Seum (R-Louisville) is also expected to introduce legislation further closing loopholes allowing government employees to work on campaigns during “company” time.

Developing. More to come.

Monday Morning Propaganda

Still on strike. Hundreds of nurses at Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospitals are still fighting for their voice. They’re heading for their third meeting with company officials in hopes of ending their strike. [H-L]

Using religion as a wedge issue. Ernie gets excited, freaks out over the Ten Commandments, tries to scare Henderson residents into believing Steve Beshear hates God, Jesus, babies. [Gleaner]

C-J calls spineless Democrats out for caving to Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush on health care for children. “If the House Democrats are who they claim to be, they won’t let George W. Bush push them, and needy children, around on this issue.” [C-J]

More gambling. Ernie just can’t get off his anti-gambling kick, runs through Ashland preaching the evils of casinos. And he’s still bitter over his merit hiring scandal– blaming Greg Stumbo every chance he gets. [Daily Independent]

Flip-flopping? Ernie changes his mind, now believes equine feed and supplies should be tax-free. Something Fletcher supporters used to attack Beshear. [WLEX18]

Mitch McConnell’s stance on SCHIP is pretty wide, isn’t it? He’s being criticized again. Can’t have your cake and eat it too. [PolWatchers]

Sen. Mongiardo is being praised for his experience in and passion for health care. The AP says he’s still engaged to Allison Patrick, though we hear that’s no longer the case. Speaking of Mongiardo: Where is he? Put him in a commercial or two! Bring him out of hiding. [AP via H-L]

Doing what’s right. John Yarmuth stands up for free speech and freedom of the press. Continuing to give us the right to protect your anonymity when you forward us private e-mails and dish the dirt about political happenings or office-paid vacations for an elected official’s mistress. [C-J]

Republicans for Beshear. Tons of Republicans showed up in Corbin this weekend to stand in support of Democrats Steve Beshear, Daniel Mongiardo and Bruce Hendrickson. Not good news for Fletcher in former Republican strong-holds. [H-L]

More endorsements. Kentucky Enquirer endorses Steve Beshear and pokes fun of his lack of a plan if gambling should fail. And the Kentucky Post endorses him. Doesn’t look like Northern Kentucky’s in the bag for Ernie anymore. [Enquirer, Post]

LEO Cover: Will the voters take the bait?

LEO Cover StoryThis week Page One’s Rick Redding pens the LEO cover story with editor Cary Stemle to shed light on the library tax referendum saga. It’s an oddly complex story that any politico in Kentucky is sure to love. Filled with all kinds of drama, misconceptions and attitude. What could be better?

It’s our opinion that the referendum, calling for an occupational tax that will raise $40 million a year and create a separate library taxing district, will not pass when voters go to the polls on November 6.

Enjoy the story. It’s a balanced look at both sides of what has turned into a strange fight.

The library tax haggle gets weird

BY CARY STEMLE and RICK REDDING

The woman, who looked for all the world like an erstwhile Highlands Volvo driver, just guessing, peered at Mark Hebert incredulously. He’s not very smart, is he? She referred to Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, whom she had just seen during a panel discussion at last Wednesday’s Louisville Forum. As Hebert and his cameraman walked out of Vincenzo’s toward their SUV on Market Street near Fifth, the woman could not resist insulting Heiner, the District 19 Republican who represents the far East End, impugning his motives in the process.

He’s pretty smart, Hebert rejoined.
Street smart or smart-smart?
Both, Hebert suggested.
The woman scoffed. She went on her way.

Things have become rather tense as Louisville Metro readies itself for a vote on increasing occupational taxes to pay for better libraries. The strangeness has particularly picked up in the past week or so, as the cheerleading daily newspaper has confused readers by actually running tough stories, the library director (and public face of the initiative) has gone underground and a Republican Metro Council member has stepped to the forefront of the pro-tax effort, shoulder-to-shoulder with the mayor.

Click here for the rest…