Kentucky Political Operative Jesse Benton Acquitted of Lying To FBI Thursday, Oct 22 2015 

Updated 3:24 p.m.: A political operative with ties to U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell has been acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI.

A federal grand jury indicted Jesse Benton earlier this year on charges stemming from 2011 when he managed the presidential campaign of former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. Benton and others were accused of paying off former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement for Paul’s campaign in advance of the Iowa Caucus.

An Iowa jury found Benton not guilty on charges that he lied to the FBI about the episode. Additional charges of conspiracy, causing false records and causing false campaign contribution reports were dismissed before the trial.

Another Ron Paul aid, Dimitri Kesari, was found guilty of filing false records that covered up payments to Sorenson.

Benton has deep ties to Kentucky’s Republican Party. He managed U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign last year, dropping out when the bribery scandal broke out in the summer of 2014.

Benton is also married to Rand Paul’s niece.

In a statement, Sen. Paul said “I am happy that justice has been served.”

Benton stepped down from managing the pro-Paul America’s Liberty PAC this summer after the revelation that he was under a federal indictment.

He also stepped down from managing the campaign of Danville Republican Rep. Mike Harmon, who’s running for state auditor.

Harmon said on Thursday that he is “happy for Jesse and his family.”

“Hopefully he can now get on with his life. I pray he has a joyous and abundant life,” Harmon said.

Prosecutors alleged the men knowingly hid $73,000 in payments to Sorenson, who endorsed Paul’s campaign before the Iowa caucuses.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


National Anti-Mitch McConnell ad campaign launches in Louisville Tuesday, Oct 13 2015 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pro-life group Personhood USA has launched a nationwide campaign centered in Louisville, Kentucky calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his role in funding abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

The new campaign ads include billboards that state “247,755 Taxpayer Funded Abortions Since Mitch Became Majority Leader” and “#ObamasWallet.” Along with this new campaign, Personhood USA is developing plans with their grassroots volunteers to keep the new Speaker of the House aware that Republicans and conservative voters do not want even one dollar of funding directed to Planned Parenthood.

Jennifer Mason, Personhood USA Spokesperson: “By funding Planned Parenthood, Senator McConnell has made every American taxpayer an unwilling accomplice to the largest abortion provider in the world. In bankrolling Planned Parenthood, we are funding all of their business practices – and it has to stop. It is time for do-nothing politicians, who have used our money to fund President Obama’s agenda, to step down.”  

McConnell ad

The advertising outreach of the campaign, which is rolling out now, is expected to reach hundreds of thousands in the state of Kentucky and millions more nationwide.

“Pro-life voters expect Republican officials to take action, and so far we’ve been deeply disappointed. No more excuses, no more delays, we need people in office who will get things done,” continued Mason.

Planned Parenthood’s annual report documents a devastating 327,653 abortions annually. The number 247,755 is a conservative estimate reached by calculating the number of abortions committed at Planned Parenthood since McConnell became the Majority Leader in the Senate on January 3 of this year.

Personhood USA is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in the country. Dedicated to protecting every innocent person by love and by law, Personhood USA strives to educate the nation with the truth about abortion.

The post National Anti-Mitch McConnell ad campaign launches in Louisville appeared first on Louisville KY.

House investigators seek information on Louisville VA hospital site selection, as U of L favors switching to downtown facility Friday, Oct 9 2015 

RobleyInvestigators from the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs traveled to Louisville in August to interview and collect information from prominent critics of the site selection for the proposed new VA hospital off Brownsboro Road, according to multiple interviewees who … Continue reading

Jesse Benton, political operative of Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, indicted on conspiracy charges related to bribery scheme Wednesday, Aug 5 2015 

Mitch McConnell and his nose-holding former campaign manager Jesse BentonJesse Benton, a high-ranking political campaign operative for several Kentucky Republicans over the last five years, was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice Wednesday on multiple charges related to a conspiracy to bribe an Iowa state senator in 2012 … Continue reading

In Other News… McConnell and Paul on Iran, county clerks vs. Supreme Court, Louisville a ‘Leading Location,’ Lawrence gets tattooed Friday, Jul 17 2015 

Mitch McConnellDeal: On Tuesday, The United States along with other world powers reached a nuclear agreement with Iran. Very soon after, President Obama met with Thomas L. Friedman at the New York Times. In the interview, the president name-checked Sen. Rand … Continue reading

What the Supreme Court ruling on EPA regulations means for Louisville Tuesday, Jun 30 2015 

Cane RunThe U.S. Supreme Court blocked a major component of the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change on Monday, invalidating the Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter mercury and air toxics emissions standards for power plants. In a 5-4 decision, the justices … Continue reading

In Other News… KY Derby, McConnell in TIME, J-Law immortalized in peanuts Friday, Apr 17 2015 

Derby138bGalloping Thunder: Thunder Over Louisville is this Saturday, Louisville — the official herald of that time of year we call Derby. Which means folks are getting either really excited or really testy about now. To get you primed for the … Continue reading

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s letter to Senator Mitch McConnell. Thursday, Mar 26 2015 

Click here or the image to read more.


Mitch McConnell’s ‘despicable’ ad wins five magazine awards Monday, Feb 2 2015 

AFT Local 1360

One of my union brothers could hardly believe that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s bogus “Election Violation Notice” collected a quintet of awards from Campaigns and Elections magazine, including “best direct mail piece for 2014.”

The mailer's purpose was to scare supporters of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell's opponent. It was a deliberate deception designed to make recipients think they were somehow breaking the law. Inside, it listed “fraudulent information” being spread by “the federal candidate” Grimes.
“Advertising is legalized lying,” H.G. Wells famously observed. That goes double for political advertising.

Of course, politicians pay campaign advertising firms handsomely for crafting hit pieces like Team Mitch’s mailer, which looked like it came from the government.
“It’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” we dutifully tell our kids in little league.
In grownup politics, winning is all that counts. If you have to lie and cheat, so be it. If you’re a gun-for-hire in political advertising, the better you are at lying and cheating, the more awards you win.
The McConnell ad, a joint venture with the Kentucky Republican Party, claimed five Reed Awards. I gather they’re Oscars for political ads judged to be the most effective, campaigns, no matter how contemptible the ads are.

Virtue may be its own reward elsewhere. Gutter politics wins the prizes atCampaign and Elections. “Best mail piece for a bare-knuckled street fight” was one of the categories the McConnell mailer won. Just the category’s name speaks volumes about the state of American politics.

But why stop with honors for cheating and playing dirty in politics?

Why not hand out trophies for the best bean baller in baseball or, in football, for players who put the most opposing players out of the game with cheap shots?

But, hey, Kentucky is a basketball state. So how about giving trophies for shoving the most players into the seats while they go airborne for a layup?
Anyway, McConnell’s mailer came in an official-looking envelope with a Frankfort return address. The piece warned the recipient: “THE INFORMATION ENCLOSED CONTAINS FACTS RELATED TO A POSSIBLE FRAUD BEING PERPETRATED ON CITIZENS ACROSS KENTUCKY.”
Jonathan Hurst, Grimes’ campaign manager, called the mailer “despicable” and a blatant attempt at voter suppression.
That it was.
But I’d bet the farm that Hurst’s complaint – and Grimes’ vain attempt to stop the mailer in court -- triggered high fives and gales of laughter on Team Mitch, whose guy beat Grimes by more than 15 percentage points.
Okay, throughout American history, truth has often been the first casualty in political campaigns, no matter the era or the party.

Supporters of Federalist President John Adams shrieked that if the “infidel” Democratic Republican Thomas Jefferson were elected president in 1800, "murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”
The Jeffersonians shot back that Adams sent a U.S. Navy ship to England to procure two prostitutes, one for himself and the other for his running mate.

However, as far as I can tell, there were no awards for such falsehoods spread by party hacks and by the partisan press in early America.
In any event, it is too bad that McConnell seems to have learned nothing about politics from his purported mentor, Sen. John Sherman Cooper. In his salad days, McConnell was a Cooper intern.
Cooper, a moderate to liberal Republican, eschewed “bare-knuckled street fight” politics, even in the 1954 senate race, probably the toughest battle of his political career. His foe was the formidable Alben Barkley, a former senate majority leader Harry Truman’s vice president.
In his campaign, the senator “…wouldn’t permit the use of rumored contract scandals against Barkley,” Robert Schulman quoted Cooper’s sister in John Sherman Cooper: The Global Kentuckian.

You can’t bet the farm McConnell would have blown a bundle on ads elevating even the most baseless of rumors to “fact.”
Cooper fought fairly and lost. I can almost hear the “nice guys finish last” sneer from Team Mitch.

Even so, Cooper bounced back. He won reelection in 1956 and stayed in the Senate until 1973. Dubbed “the Global Kentuckian,” Cooper was also a diplomat, serving as U.S. ambassador to India in 1955-1956 and to East Germany in 1974-1976.
Above all, Cooper was a principled politician. His refusal to demonize and smear his political foes is a big part of his legacy. He died in 1991 and went down in history as a statesman in the truest sense of the word.

I doubt history will be as kind to McConnell, and rightly so.
“John Sherman Cooper would be appalled at Mitch McConnell,” said Dr. Duane Bolin, a Murray State University historian and author. “McConnell’s bottom line is simply to stay in office and enrich himself and the billionaires who support him. I don’t think he believes in anything.”
Shortly before I talked to my union brother, I got an email from another one of my friends, a university librarian-historian. He had seen the KET interview with McConnell at Ashland, Sen. Henry Clay’s preserved Lexington home.

A 19th century state legislator, congressman, senator, secretary of state, three time presidential candidate and broker of three compromises to save the Union, Clay is Kentucky’s greatest ever statesman. (President Abraham Lincoln is our greatest native son, but he made his political splash in Illinois.)
“Mitch was bragging about his historical knowledge of Henry Clay and the great respect he had for the man and his politics,” my buddy wrote. “I could only chuckle - the Great Divider commenting on the Great Compromiser.”

In Other News… Runaway teens caught, Wendell Ford dies, senators on climate change, ‘Mockingjay’ tops 2014 Friday, Jan 23 2015 

Dalton HayesCorrection Appended Born to Run: Dalton Hayes and Cheyenne Phillips of Kentucky were apprehended in Panama City, Fla., in the early morning hours this past Sunday, says CNN and USA Today. Dubbed the teen “Bonnie and Clyde,” the 18-year-old Hayes … Continue reading

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