Local News Politics

Hopkins County Attorney P’Pool Seeking AG’s Office

Hopkins County Attorney Todd P’Pool is seeking the Republican nomination for Kentucky Attorney General.  P’Pool dropped by the Secretary of State’s Wednesday office to fill out his paperwork and pay the qualifying fee.

“My family’s been in Kentucky since the 1800’s and it’s time to have an attorney general that knows the values of Kentucky, and shares the values of Kentucky, and to have an attorney general that will protect our jobs.”

P’Pool admits he has a unique name, but doesn’t think it will pose a problem for Kentucky voters.

“I’ve been elected twice in Hopkins County,” he says. ” And my name usually gets a good pause and sometimes a good chuckle.  So, I give Kentucky voters a lot of credit for knowing what the issues are and I look forward to getting out all across the commonwealth and meeting a lot of people and letting them know what I believe in.”

So far, P’Pool is the only candidate to qualify for the office. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who lost to U.S. Senator-elect Rand Paul this fall, hasn’t qualified yet, but has announced his intentions to seek re-election.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Conway Passes Mayor’s Race Complaints To KSP

Dueling complaints over alleged improper endorsements in the Louisville mayor’s race are now being handled by the Kentucky State Police. Each party claims the rival party’s candidate violated the law by trading influence for support.

The first complaint was filed by the Republican Party of Kentucky. It says Democratic candidate Greg Fischer promised significant power in Metro Government to independent candidate Jackie Green, who dropped out of the race and endorsed Fischer earlier this month.

E-mails from those involved show that Green had hoped for an influential role in Fischer’s proposed Office of Sustainability. A press release from the Fischer campaign says Green will help advise Fischer if the Democrat wins, but Green and Fischer deny any wrongdoing.

Similarly, the Kentucky Democratic Party has filed a complaint claiming that Republican candidate Hal Heiner promised former Democratic candidate Tyler Allen significant influence over transportation issues in exchange for a public endorsement. Their complaint is based on statements from Metro Council President Tom Owen, who talked with Allen before any endorsements were made public. Heiner and Allen deny any wrongdoing.

Attorney General Jack Conway is running for Senate and has donated to Fischer’s campaign. To avoid a conflict of interest, he passed both complaints on to the Kentucky State Police for further investigation.

Local News

Consumer Advisory Council Holds Forum On Payday Lending

The Kentucky Consumer Advisory Council held the first of three public forums on payday lending Wednesday in Louisville. The forums come after repeated calls for more regulation on the payday loan industry.

Payday loans are short-term high-interest cash advances. Because the loans are meant to be paid back quickly, lenders say the interest rates do not compare to the lower rates on long-term bank loans. But Lisa Gabbard with the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending says the rates are too high, and borrowers are often trapped under back-to-back loans.

Gabbard says the interest rates should be capped at the equivalent of 36 percent annual interest. That’s the maximum rate lenders can currently give on loans to members of the military.

“We’ve been accused of trying to put a business out of commission and that’s not at all the case,” she says. “In fact, one of our members of KCRL visited For Knox, which of course is a military community, and found nine payday lenders in operation. So clearly they can operate and make money at 36%”

Todd Leatherman directs the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. He says the council may call for more regulation on payday loans after the forums.

“This is a council that is interested in the industry, interested in hearing the entire story,” he says. “So we hope to provide a forum where all of the information can be obtained.”

The council will hold forums in Lexington and Newport in the next few weeks.

Local News

Beshear Signs Death Warrant, Waits On Two Due To Drug Shortage

With one exception, executions in Kentucky will not be possible until next year.

Governor Steve Beshear was recently asked to sign three death warrants. He signed one, but held off on two others, citing a shortage of Sodium thiopental (Pentathol), which is used in lethal injection executions.

Gregory L. Wilson is scheduled to be put to death on September 16th with the state’s last usable dose. Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown says Pentathol expires quickly once it’s mixed into the lethal injection cocktail. And the state would have to take unusual steps to perform any other executions before a new shipment arrives next year.

“I don’t want to say it would’ve been impossible, but the only way to do it to would to have been able to do almost do back to back executions on the same date, and I don’t think that’s anything that was ever considered,” he says.

This would be the first execution in Kentucky since the state Supreme Court ruled that the lethal injection protocol must be readopted to be legal. At least two lawsuits challenge the protocol. One was filed by Wilson and is pending. A judge has not yet ruled on the other. Attorney General’s spokesperson Allison Gardner Martin says executions can continue in the commonwealth.

“We believe that the rulings that have been passed by the U.S. Supreme Court, we believe the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol,” she says.

The last execution in Kentucky was in November 2008.

Local News

AG Opinion: Arena Authority Violated Open Records Act

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office says the Louisville Arena Authority is in partial violation of the state’s Open Records Act.

In mid-April, Don Sherry sought access to personal information of employees of two subcontractors on the Louisville Arena project.

Sherry wanted the information because arena contract provisions require the use of local workers, including women and minorities, and the payment of prevailing wages.

While the attorney general’s office says the Arena Authority properly denied personal information like social security numbers and dates of birth, it improperly denied information like employees’ names, home zip codes, gender, race and pay rates.

The authority argued release of the data would violate privacy rights, but the AG’s office says the public’s interest in insuring the contract provisions on the partially publicly-funded arena are enforced outweigh any privacy concerns.

Any party aggrieved by the opinion may appeal to circuit court.

A spokesperson says the Arena Authority will not have any comment until they have a chance to review the opinion.

Local News

Mine Safety Analyst Indicted for Falsifying Reports

A former mine safety analyst in Kentucky has been indicted on dozens of charges of falsifying reports.  News of the charges comes on the heels of recent scrutiny into the practice of federal mine safety regulators and coal mine workers during inspections.

Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway has announced the initial findings of a criminal investigation into a former Kentucky mine safety analyst from Perry County.  Betty Sue Whitaker from Hazard has been indicted on 28-counts of falsifying reports about several mines, many of which are in Perry County.  According to the deputy clerk with Franklin County Circuit Court, details about Whitaker’s actions are not yet available.  But a mine safety analyst is responsible for preventing mine accidents by observing work habits and advising workers on how to create safer conditions.  The Attorney General’s Office of Special Prosecutors is taking the case.  Whitaker is expected to be arraigned in early August.

Local News

AG's Office Gets Voter Fraud Complaints

from Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky attorney general’s voter fraud hotline is receiving a steady stream of complaints on this primary Election Day.

Clay County, which has had voter fraud problems in the past, is again drawing complaints. Shelley Johnson with the attorney’s general office says the voter fraud hotline has already received almost 60 calls statewide.

“We’ve received eight calls from Clay County,” says Johnson. “Those calls relate to six complaints on vote buying and two complaints related to an election official and electioneering within 300 feet of polls.”

Other complaints across the state relate to procedural questions, election officials, voting machines and exit polling. If you witness or suspect election irregularities, call the voter fraud hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE.

Local News

A-G Finds Louisville Agency in Violation of Open Records Laws

from Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky Consumer Advocate Network in Louisville recently violated state Open Records laws. At least that’s the opinion of the state attorney general’s office.

In February, Rita Brooks requested specific contracts, salaries, minutes and budgetary information from the Kentucky Consumer Advocate Network, or KYCAN, of Louisville.

An attorney for KYCAN informed Brooks her Open Records request was denied, because KYCAN receives “virtually all of its funding from federal grants.” Brooks appealed to the attorney general’s office, which sides with Brooks.

The AG’s office says Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funds comprise about 70 percent of KYCAN’s budget. It’s federal money, but it’s deposited in the State Treasury, appropriated by the General Assembly and distributed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Therefore, it’s “state or local funds,” as defined by Kentucky law. And since KYCAN receives at least 25 percent of its funding from the state, it’s a public agency subject to the Open Records law.

Any party aggrieved by the AG’s opinion may appeal to circuit court.

Local News

Settlement Reached with Toy Maker Over Lead

Thirty-eight states, including Kentucky, have reached a settlement with toy-maker Mattel over the presence of excessive levels of lead in toys.  Kentucky Attorney General spokeswoman Allison Martin says millions of tainted toys were on store shelves in 2007.

“These toys were manufactured in China. And many of them not only violated the federal standards of parts-per-million for lead-based paint that was found in surface paint of toys, but exceeded that amount sometimes by tens of thousands in the parts per million,” says Martin.

Mattel has agreed to pay the states $12 million dollars in damages.  Kentucky’s share of the money is just under half a million dollars, which will go back into the Attorney General’s operating fund.

Local News

Scams On The Rise

The Kentucky Attorney General says fraudulent businesses and lotteries are on the rise in the Commonwealth.

Since October, the Attorney General’s office has been hearing more and more reports of scams, including phony lotteries, charities and foreclosure assistance.

Office spokesperson Allison Martin says the schemes are a sort of holiday tradition.

“Those types of calls will peak in December when people are really trying to get their hands on extra money for the holidays or trying to make that mortgage payment in addition to buying holiday gifts,” she says.

Martin says the economic downturn has made some of the scams more appealing to Kentuckians who are facing lean personal budgets.