Click Here for Part One: Speaking Of Progress Kentucky’s Shawn Reilly And Other Problems…
Shortly after the request for a Special Bailiff was made in the Zachary Scarpellini murder/manslaughter civil suit, Shawn Reilly surfaced in Louisville working on the Congressional campaign of Democrat and Iraq War veteran Andrew Horne. (Full disclosure: I was a part of the Horne Campaign but that’s where my involvement in that part of the story ends)
Horne, who lost in the May 2006 primary to now-Congressman John Yarmuth, employed Reilly to staff fundraising events, hold house parties and organize voters. But he wasn’t just handling campaign grunt work. Reilly worked himself into the good graces of campaign leadership within a matter of weeks. In no time at all, he was participating in strategy sessions and attending meetings involving Democratic Party officials.
Reilly’s time on the campaign didn’t end as smoothly as it began, though, as he hit a bit of a wall. Just before the Primary Election, Reilly – who had recently returned from South Carolina – attempted to cast an absentee vote. That’s where the road got rocky.
The political news world was hot with the story of 8,000 voters being purged from the rolls in Kentucky by Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Democrats, incensed over national coverage of similar stories, were convinced that Grayson, a Republican, had nixed people illegally. Shawn Reilly claimed he was one of those people who was allegedly illegally purged.
From the Associated Press/State-Journal:
When Shawn Reilly went to cast an absentee ballot recently, he found out he was among more than 8,000 people removed from voter rolls in Kentucky because they appeared to be registered in other states as well.
Reillys situation illustrates concerns the attorney generals office has with the move to purge Kentuckys voter rolls. Attorney General Greg Stumbo is seeking a court ruling to restore the names before next Tuesdays primary election.
Reilly, a 23-year-old University of Louisville student, says he will plead his case to local election officials on primary election day if a judge doesnt rule.
Reillys case, meanwhile, has some special circumstances.
He initially registered as a Republican in 2000 a fact Reilly said he didnt realize until Wednesday; he said hes never voted for a Republican. Reilly listed his party affiliation as Democrat when he registered in March.
Due to a technicality, however, he wouldnt have been eligible to vote in partisan races next week, Fugate said. Reillys March filing wasnt considered a new registration because he was still on voter rolls in Kentucky, Fugate said. Instead, it simply was considered a change in party affiliation, he said. Thus, Reilly missed the Dec. 31, 2005, deadline to change party affiliation and still be eligible to vote in partisan elections in the May 16 primary, Fugate said.
Reilly said he considered his March filing to be a new registration, since he had moved back from South Carolina, where he previously attended school.
Meanwhile, Reilly said he was cooperating with the attorney generals office in its case and signed an affidavit recounting his situation.
Reilly wasn’t illegally purged, as you can see. No one was.
What the AP story doesn’t reveal to you is that Reilly appeared at a press conference featuring a representative from Attorney General Greg Stumbo’s office and candidate Andrew Horne. Reilly pleaded his case before television cameras, claiming there had been a Republican con job, that he was a victim. That couldn’t have been further from the truth and he had dragged both the Office of the Attorney General and the entirety of a political campaign into a false claim of Republican corruption.
The other tidbit the AP story doesn’t reveal is that after that press conference, the campaign spokesperson sent Reilly home to obtain his voter registration card. That’s when the story all but died. Because that voter registration card revealed his status was not that of being registered within the Democratic Party in South Carolina. It was an embarrassing way to end an already failing campaign.
The following months saw Reilly attempt to run unsuccessfully for president of the Young Democrats while getting more deeply involved with the local Democratic Party. And on the surface, he appeared to be taking a break from the public eye.
Toward the end of 2006, Kentucky’s political world was heating up for the 2007 gubernatorial race. In light of then-Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher’s nationally known foibles, Democrats were excited. So excited that former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry was chomping at the bit to launch his campaign.
Fresh off the Horne Campaign, I was in need of a job to pay the bills. So the campaign manager connected me with Henry and I was hired to be his Director of Finance. After a few weeks on the job, I uncovered massive corruption on Henry’s part, promptly resigned and turned all the evidence over to the Kentucky State Police Special Investigations Unit.
What ensued was a nearly three-year investigation that culminated in Henry pleading guilty to three charges of campaign finance fraud: using funds from a federal campaign account for a state-level race and using funds from two non-profit agencies to pay for his failed gubernatorial bid. On top of the counts to which he pleaded, Henry was forced to forfeit $600,000 and received a 12-month jail sentence that was deferred. Throughout the ordeal, he blamed everyone but himself.
Some media reports about the case:
Former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry was pronounced guilty by a judge Tuesday afternoon of violating Kentucky election-finance laws in connection with Henry’s unsuccessful 2007 gubernatorial campaign.
Former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry accepted a plea deal Tuesday for three misdemeanors related to misusing campaign resources during his failed 2007 run in the Democratic primary for governor.
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate sentenced Henry, 56, to a $500 fine and $156 in court costs, plus 12 months in jail, with the jail time suspended on the condition that Henry avoid further criminal problems for two years.
After nearly 2.5 years of scrutiny and investigation, former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry takes a plea deal for violating campaign laws.
Henry didn’t admit his guilt but he did admit there’s enough evidence to possibly convict him.
Special Prosecutor James Crawford said, “his client stood up there and plead guilty so obviously somebody is concerned about the facts behind the case.”
Crawford says the evidence against Henry is overwhelming, starting with testimony from Henry’s former aid, Leslie Holland, the woman who brought the allegations of campaign finance fraud to the Attorney General.
All that’s relevant because shortly after news broke in every media outlet under the sun that Henry was under investigation – and those media outlets provided evidence to back up claims – Reilly sought Henry out for a job on his campaign. After weeks upon weeks of negative stories and law enforcement interviews, I have to reiterate that Reilly sought Henry out.
After the gubernatorial race and Henry’s loss, Reilly found himself involved with organizations like Public Campaign Action Fund, efforts like the anti-war Iraq Summer campaign and appeared set on remaining in the public eye. For him, it seemed as if the Scarpellini case was a thing of the past.
As luck would have it, though, that wasn’t exactly the case.
Check back tomorrow for Part Three of the story…
UPDATE: Click here for Part 3.