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.

Ugh, Stop Claiming You Can Win, Curtis

What’s good for the goose and the gander is also good for their essentially invisible friend, Drew Curtis.

Upon discovering that he’s only polling at 7%, which is possible a bit generous at the moment, here’s the release his campaign blasted out:

The latest Bluegrass Poll was released today and has Drew Curtis at 7 percent.

We are disappointed in not just the results of the poll, but the methodology used to achieve them. Specifically, the poll changes populations in the middle of the survey, which is a deviation from standard polling methods. For the overall “Who would you vote for” question, the population was 701 likely voters. The population for the rest of the questions was 866 registered voters.

Additionally, likely voters are typically determined by asking a respondent if they voted in the last election. Many of Drew’s strongest supporters have been disenchanted by politics for years, and would not have been deemed likely voters. The simple fact is that many of them haven’t found a candidate they liked in a long time–until Drew came along.

While we respect the Bluegrass Poll media partners for their fair coverage of this election, SurveyUSA has a reputation for polling results that are proven wildly inaccurate come Election Day, as we saw last year in the McConnell-Grimes Senate race. So it’s unfortunate, but we’re hopeful that we’ll see another poll or two drop before November that uses a more traditional and accurate methodology. We expect it would show an alternate outcome.

In the meantime, as Drew has said in speeches before: Assert your ultimate authority over this process and elect the best candidate for the job. If everyone who ever thought government doesn’t work for them came out to vote, Drew would win in a landslide. This fact remains true today.

Rather than admit voters have no clue who Drew is, his campaign decided it would be best to attack the pollster. Claiming SurveyUSA has a reputation for bad results isn’t rare. It just seems to occur when someone doesn’t like the results.

We get it. SurveyUSA sucks. Though, these results are probably close to reality. You can walk around just about anywhere, at any festival or gathering, and come up with similar results. No one loves Matt Bevin, no one loves Jack Conway, no one knows Drew Curtis exists, sadly.

The best candidate for the job won’t win. Stop spreading that nonsense. This is Kentucky. The best candidate for the job rarely wins without a mountain of cash. The more Curtis acts like he has a shot (he doesn’t — and you know we like him the best, even with his poorly thought out Donald Trump comments), the less seriously frequent voters take him. If he’d work this from a perspective of honesty? Openly proclaiming that he has no shot, that there’s not a snowball’s chance in mythical hell that he can win? Then he could use his position to force his opponents to take positions, to discuss issues of importance, to do more than pander.

He could ultimately transition from third-tier losing candidate to someone people trust. Instead of being the guy one side will undoubtedly blame for their loss, he could be viewed by media and the public as the guy who helped force the good old boy system out into the sunlight. He could get people to understand the pension disaster. He could maybe get Kentuckians to realize that high-speed internet access is a human right and should be in every home.

Second-weirdest press release of the season. Most weird being that crazy ass rant from the guy running against Adam Edelen. What’s his name again? He advertised here for a minute. Can’t think of it. … Oh, Mike Harmon. Him. He and Drew Curtis have the weirdest releases of the season.

P.S. No one but Jerry Lundergan thought Alison Grimes would win.

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]

Matt Bevin Is Trying To Lose The Race

Attorney General Jack Conway maintains a nominal five-point lead over Republican Matt Bevin with just more than a month to go in Kentucky’s race for governor, according to a new Bluegrass Poll. [H-L]

Is Matt Bevin trying to lose the race for governor? Yes. But so is Jack Conway. [More H-L]

The U.S. plans to increase the number of refugees it takes from 70,000 to 100,000 over the next two years. New York, Los Angeles and 16 other cities have urged President Barack Obama to accept even more refugees from Syria. [HuffPo]

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet agreed this month to keep secret a proposed settlement of its lawsuit against an Eastern Kentucky oil company that had been repeatedly cited for contaminating the North Fork of the Kentucky River. [C-J/AKN]

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a final version of updated rules intended to keep farmworkers from being poisoned by pesticides. [NPR]

The Glasgow City Council passed a new city ordinance regarding the humane treatment of animals following a second reading at Monday’s meeting, setting limits to how long dogs may be tethered to a single point and specifying the equipment to be used and the manner in which tethering can legally occur within city limits. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Royal Dutch Shell has stopped Arctic oil and gas exploration off the coast of Alaska after “disappointing” results from a key well in the Chukchi Sea. [BBC]

Steam rolled off a large tray of sorghum juice as it simmered at 235 degrees, filling the Old Mill Park with a smell unique to the cane plant. Last weekend marked the 45th annual Sorghum Festival. Despite the gloomy weather, a large crowd walked though downtown West Liberty enjoying the local craft bazaar, parade, homemade snacks, fair food and of course — freshly made sorghum. [Ashland Independent]

Earlier this month, the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank, published a provocatively titled paper that posited, “Do we already have universal preschool?” Revitalizing the fierce debate over early childhood education, the paper concluded that 70 percent of children already have an option for pre-K, infuriating many who have been making pushes for public funding of universal pre-K. [ThinkProgress]

James Comer said he plans to start a business and return home to Monroe County once his term is over in December. What he didn’t mention is toying with a run for congress. [WHAS11]

Immigrants and their descendants will drive U.S. population growth over the next half century, transforming the country into one where no racial or ethnic group is a majority, a Pew Research Center report released on Monday said. [Reuters]

Whether this hilarious take from organized labor about Matt Bevin’s running mate is true or not? You already know she’s a piece of work. [AFL-CIO]

One of the three super PACs supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has stopped raising money, dealing a damaging blow to an already cash-starved campaign. And the guy running his campaign into the ground? His name is Doug Stafford. [Politico]

Freedom of religion isn’t reason enough to deny any American their constitutional rights, President Barack Obama said Sunday as he addressed members of the LGBT community, one of his major sources of political and financial support. [H-L]

Ivo Caers confirmed for us Table 21 was never reported to the FDA. … We know now what’s behind the tables: The little girls with the lactating breasts … and the little boys even under ten who have gynecomastia. My word. [HuffPo]

Highlights From Today’s Goober Debate

Here are the things:

  • Drew Curtis can’t remember who he voted for in 2012 but wants to be governor
  • Curtis said he’d vote for Donald Trump if he fleshed out his positions… even though he’s spewed some unbelievably racist junk and touted economic policies that would bankrupt the country
  • Matt Bevin said you should pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Just without any safety net or education.
  • Jack Conway once again shied away from giving any specific answers
  • But he did claim to believe in global warming, because it’s a real thing, while at the same time loving how coal kills the environment
  • Bigot Bevin said during the debate he’d vote for Ben Carson because he’s articulate
  • After the debate Bevin said he’d vote for Rand Paul because reasons

Kentucky is still screwed.