In Other News… Paul on Paris, the first Taco Bell, Food for Fines, Lawrence pranks the pranksters Friday, Nov 20 2015 

taco bell nemero unoParis Reaction: The attacks in Paris last week have left the world struggling to come to grips with another outbreak of terror as well as the action items in its wake — offerings of support and solidarity to those abroad followed by … Continue reading

Rand Paul Seeks To Halt Refugee Visas From Countries With High Terrorism Risk Monday, Nov 16 2015 

In the wake of the deadly attacks last week in Paris, Sen. Rand Paul plans to introduce legislation that “would suspend visa issuance for countries with a high risk of terrorism.”

Paul’s intentions, announced Monday, join a chorus of Republicans seeking to take steps following the Paris attacks. About a dozen Republican governors — including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — have also announced they intend to block the intake of refugees from countries dealing with ISIS and other terrorist groups.

In September, Secretary of State John Kerry promised that the U.S. would take in 100,000 refugees from the war-ravaged Syria by 2017.

Paul’s proposed legislation would also “impose a waiting period for background checks on visa issuance from other countries until the American people can be assured terrorists cannot enter the country through our immigration and visa system,” according to a statement from his office released Monday.

“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door,” Paul said in a statement. “The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks.

“The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore this concern that I have been working to address for the past several years. My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place.”

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Paul, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said he introduced similar legislation in 2013 when the U.S. Senate was weighing a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Time reports that during a recent presidential forum in Orlando, Paul said Sen. Marco Rubio’s “opposition to one of his amendments to the 2013 Gang of Eight immigration bill, which would have enhanced screening requirements for those entering the country, damaged national security.” Rubio is also a Republican candidate for president.

“Two, three years ago, I introduced a bill, or an amendment, to the immigration bill that would have provided for more scrutiny of people coming into our country: refugees, immigrants, students,” Paul said, when asked about his response to Friday’s attacks. “They would have had background checks and they would have had a much higher degree of scrutiny. And the point I made in my speech was, I introduced this to Rubio and (Democratic Sen. Chuck) Schumer’s immigration bill and then Rubio and Schumer and all of the authors voted against any conservative amendments. And I think that was a mistake, not only for the bill, but also for our national security.”

Ben Carson Joins Field For Kentucky’s Republican Presidential Caucus Tuesday, Nov 10 2015 

Four Republican candidates have now filed to run in Kentucky’s first Republican presidential caucus.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is the latest candidate to enter the caucus field, according to a news release from the Republican Party of Kentucky.

Carson — who is leading in some polls — joins former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump as candidates in Kentucky’s caucus, RPK Executive Director Mike Biagi said.

The filing fee is $15,000.

“It is great to see that the decision to hold the first ever caucus in Kentucky is generating activity here from presidential campaigns,” Biagi said.

The caucus is scheduled for the Saturday following Super Tuesday, which is when a large swath of states weed-out candidates.

Ben CarsonGage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Ben Carson

Biagi said he thinks the timing of the caucus is its biggest appeal to candidates. In past presidential elections years, Kentucky Democrats and Republicans chose candidates during the May primary.

“Because Kentucky is doing this caucus earlier than we have usually done a primary, we are getting more interest and it’s making our voters more relevant in choosing a Republican president,” Biagi told WFPL News. “The caucus will certainly be competitive.”

The caucus is being paid for by Rand Paul, who is simultaneously seeking the Republican presidential nomination and second term in the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. He asked state party members to hold a caucus so that he could run for both offices.

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Kentucky is expected to have 46 delegates (out of 2,470) at the 2016 Republican National Convention, which will formally nominate the party’s presidential nominee. The delegates will be assigned in proportion to the vote in the March caucus.

Paul has yet to file for the caucus. The deadline to file is Jan. 7. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has also said he plans to file for Kentucky’s caucus.

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.


Rand Paul Switches Gears To Focus On Senate Seat Friday, Oct 2 2015 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is making the rounds in Kentucky this week, taking a break from the presidential campaign trail and concentrating efforts on his Senate re-election.

For the most part, Paul’s been focusing his attention in recent months on his struggling presidential campaign, but not this weekend.

There could be a couple of factors that explain this shift.

Politico reported Tuesday that “one of the three super PACs supporting Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has stopped raising money.” Soon after, there were reports that Paul was holding fundraisers for his Senate race.

University of Kentucky political science professor Stephen Voss said money might not be the only reason Paul’s back home.

Wednesday’s Bluegrass poll wasn’t just bad news for Bevin, who trails Democrat Jack Conway by 5 percent, Voss said. He noted the survey could also serve as a warning to Kentucky’s junior senator.

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The Bluegrass Poll’s latest survey of Kentucky voters — which shows Conway holding a narrow lead in a three-way governor’s race — is a reminder to Republicans in the state that they still have to fight it out for votes here, Voss noted.

“The Republicans can’t assume that these folks are so loyal and identify with the GOP so closely that it’s basically theirs to lose,” he said. “You do have to go after these votes.”

Paul is slated to attend events in Jefferson and Bullitt counties on Friday. On Saturday, he is scheduled to attend a rally in Frankfort in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin.

Voss said Paul’s strategy moving forward is going to have to include significant face time with Kentucky voters.

“For Rand Paul to read the temperature of the voters looking at recent polls and decide that he has got to go shore up the Republican side of the ledger going into a Senate contest — it would make perfect sense as a strategy,” he said.

Paul may end up facing a hefty Democratic challenger. Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen has been mentioned as a possible opponent next year.

Edelen hasn’t officially announced any plans to run, but he did give a hint of a possible challenge during this year’s Fancy Farm picnic. During his speech, Edelen criticized Paul for a Senate filibuster aimed at curtailing the domestic surveillance program.

“We also prefer the speeches that Rand Paul gives at Fancy Farm than the ones he gives in the well of the U.S. Senate,” Edelen said. “The difference being in Fancy Farm, Rand Paul is limited to five minutes, and his speeches don’t jeopardize the national security of this country.”

Candidates for governor debate on Kentucky Sports Radio, as new Bluegrass Poll shows Jack Conway with small lead Wednesday, Sep 30 2015 

capitolHours before the new Bluegrass Poll showed Democrat Jack Conway leading Republican Matt Bevin by 5 percent in Kentucky’s race for governor, the candidates — including independent Drew Curtis — participated in a spirited debate on Kentucky Sports Radio, which … Continue reading

Matt Bevin Says He Wouldn’t Vote For Rand Paul Wednesday, Sep 30 2015 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said Wednesday he wouldn’t vote for Kentucky’s U.S. Senator Rand Paul in next year’s Republican presidential primary, and would instead cast a ballot for Detroit neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

“I like Ben Carson, he’s not taking shots at people. He’s intelligent, he’s articulate, he’s respected. There’s a lot about him that I think America would do well to have at the helm,” Bevin said during a gubernatorial debate on Kentucky Sports Radio.

Bevin has previously supported Paul’s White House bid. And his comments could prove awkward this weekend. Paul is scheduled to stump for Bevin at a rally Saturday in Frankfort.

Bevin said he thinks “the world of Rand” but at this point he’s “looking at people who I think would have the best chance of uniting all the pieces.”

“In terms of who I would select right now for the next president he would not be the first choice that I would make,” Bevin said.

Support for Paul’s presidential campaign has been flagging in recent months, with only a little more than 2 percent of likely Republican voters saying they’d vote for him, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/ NBC Poll.

In the gubernatorial debate Wednesday morning, Bevin’s Democratic opponent Jack Conway pounced on his opponent’s comments.

“Wow that’s going to make for a testy campaign event this weekend, Matt,” Conway said.

After the debate, Bevin turned to Twitter to say he’s not endorsing any presidential candidates.

“To be clear..I like Ben Carson, but am not endorsing him or anyone for POTUS..Have never endorsed in my life..If I did would #StandWithRand,” Bevin tweeted.

Conway refused to say who he would vote for in the presidential race, except that he would vote for the Democratic nominee.

Independent candidate Drew Curtis said he would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump.

In the hour-long debate, candidates discussed abortion, coal and tax returns.

In response to a question about whether defunding the state’s share for Planned Parenthood, Conway said he doesn’t support any public money going for abortion services. But he didn’t say he would pull the state funding for Planned Parenthood.

“I would prefer to see all family planning be done in the private context,” Conway said.

Bevin, who supports defunding the program, called Conway’s response a “cop out.”

Drew Curtis said that the first thing he would do as governor would be to “drop a big fat audit” on the Kentucky’s pension systems, which have denied open records requests of their financial details.

“I find that problematic, I would like to see what’s going on over there,” Curtis said.

Bevin also faced questions about his ongoing refusal to release his tax returns, saying “it’s not the business of people to go into what I’ve done or not done with my money.”

The most recent public opinion poll showed Bevin and Conway in a statistical tie, with Drew Curtis taking 8 percent of the vote. A new poll will be released later today.

Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush Plan To Participate In Kentucky’s Republican Caucus Thursday, Sep 24 2015 

This story has been updated.

Two Republican presidential front-runners say they plan to file for Kentucky’s Republican presidential caucus in March.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday filed to be a candidate in the caucus, according to the Republican Party of Kentucky. Also on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones he plans to campaign for votes in Kentucky next year.

“Our goal is to be involved in every state possible,” Rubio, R-Florida, said during a roughly 15-minute radio interview, in which he talked about sports and politics.

“It is difficult to predict what the race will look like by the time we get there,” he said. “So we want to be involved everywhere, and that’s another place we intend to be involved.”

The Republican Party of Kentucky voted last month to hold a caucus at the request of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, another presidential candidate. Paul suggested the caucus as a way to work around a state law that prohibits candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. Paul is also seeking re-election next year to the U.S. Senate.

Bush and Rubio are polling ahead of Paul in current national polls.

Rubio told Jones he plans on being competitive in the state, even though Paul has a home-state advantage.

“We intend to be competitive and try to get everywhere,” he said. “Obviously, when you have a home-state person running, they have a huge advantage and that helps them.”

He said “it’s important for us to be on as many ballots as possible.”

Republican presidential candidates must pay a $15,000 fee to be on the caucus ballot. The fees help defray the cost of running the election. Paul has said his campaign will pay the rest of those costs.

For the caucus to officially take place, Paul had to give $250,000 to the state party last week, which he did.

Kentucky Republican Party chairman Steve Robertson recently said he expects the state will become a stomping ground for more presidential candidates.

He said the caucus will be held early enough during election season that Republican candidates will have an incentive to vie for votes in the state.

“It just makes the calculus on Kentucky different for presidential campaigns because there is an environment where they know that they can come to our state, compete for delegates, start identifying their support structure throughout Kentucky,” Robertson told WFPL earlier this week.

Unlike the traditional May election, Kentucky Republicans next year will cast ballots for GOP presidential nomination contenders on March 5 at events throughout the state. The events will be organized by the county chairs.

The state’s Republican convention delegates — who will officially choose the party’s presidential nominee —will be divvied among the contenders proportionally based on the caucus vote.

Kentucky will have at least 45 delegates in the 2016 Republican National Convention, out of a total of 2,470. The state could gain a delegate if Republican Matt Bevin wins this year’s governor’s race.

Kentucky Democrats will vote during a regular primary in May.

Jeb Bush Could Be One Of Several Presidential Candidates To Visit Kentucky Tuesday, Sep 22 2015 

Now that Kentucky Republicans are officially holding a presidential caucus in March, the party’s leader says the state can expect an influx of visits from presidential candidates.

First up: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s visit to Louisville on Thursday.

Bush is attending a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Kentucky, party officials announced last week.

Kentucky Republican Party chairman Steve Robertson said he’s excited for the fundraising help from Bush, as this year’s contentious gubernatorial race between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin gets closer. But he said this fundraiser is also a signal the state will become a stomping ground for more presidential candidates.

“I believe it’s a big signal,” Robertson said. “The fact that Gov. Bush is coming to Kentucky so quickly is obviously a great sign.”

The March caucus may make Kentucky a more attractive stumping spot for Republicans than ever before. In previous years, Kentucky’s May primary has been held too late to play a significant role in the selection of presidential nominees.

But the Republicans have more than a dozen candidates this year, and none has firmly broken away from the pack. The state’s March caucus could play a role in selecting the Republican presidential nominee — especially if Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential bid remains low in the polls.

The Kentucky Republican Party is holding a caucus at Paul’s request. Under current state law, candidates are prohibited from appearing twice on a ballot. Paul, who has called that law “unconstitutional,” is up for re-election to the Senate in addition to his presidential bid.

The caucus allows Paul to get home-state support for his presidential bid in March and to also appear on the ballot during the primary in May, when he seeks re-election to his Senate seat.

In recent polls, Paul’s presidential bid has garnered about 4 percent of the support among Republicans.

Last month, the Republican Party of Kentucky’s leadership committee approved a plan to hold a March caucus — on the condition that Paul give $250,000 by last Friday. He did, so the party appears destined for a caucus.

Paul’s campaign has said it will cover the entire cost of the election.

Robertson said the caucus will be held early enough during election season that Republican candidates will have an incentive to vie for votes in the Bluegrass State.

“It just makes the calculus on Kentucky different for presidential campaigns because there is an environment where they know that they can come to our state, compete for delegates, start identifying their support structure throughout Kentucky,” he said.

Although this will be a brand-new process for most voters in Kentucky, Robertson said he is excited the state is going to have influence in a presidential election for the first time in a long time.

“Typically, our role in the nominating process — whether it’s for a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate — for the U.S. presidency is just a ‘get in line’ in May behind a decision that every other state in the nation has chimed in on,” Robertson said.

The idea that a caucus would raise the state’s profile in the presidential primary process was one of selling points for party leaders. Last month, Christian County Republican Chair Jason Hasert said the caucus would make Kentucky more relevant.

“I think it gets Kentucky some skin in the game where our presidential votes matter,” Hasert said.

While the caucus could increase interest from candidates, it could have the opposite effect on voters. Voting experts warn caucuses tend to have a lower voter turnout compared with regular primary elections.

But RPK officials have said they are working out a system aimed at increasing voter turnout. The plans include incorporating a way to ensure that people who are out of state can vote.

Bush isn’t the first presidential candidate to visit Kentucky this year. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, and Ted Cruz, the Texas senator, visited this month to show support for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has made national headlines for her defiant stance against same-sex marriage.

(Image by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

Rand Paul Provides Funds For Republican Caucus Ahead of Deadline Friday, Sep 18 2015 

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign has provided the required funding for a Kentucky Republican presidential caucus in 2016.

The Republican Party of Kentucky last month set the $250,000 payment as a requirement for it to conduct the caucus, which represents a break from the party’s usual May primary election.

The deadline for Paul to submit the payment to the state party was Friday. In a statement Friday afternoon, state Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson said Paul had met the party’s conditions set forth for the party to conduct a caucus.

The Republican presidential caucus is slated for March 5.

“We’re incredibly excited to be moving forward with a caucus in Kentucky,” Paul political adviser Doug Stafford said in a released statement. “This is great news for Republicans across the commonwealth who will now play an important part in the presidential primary nominating process.”

While exploring a possible run for president several months ago, Paul asked state party leaders to hold a presidential caucus next year, allowing him to simultaneously vie for the presidency and his Senate seat.

It’s a way of working around a state law prohibiting candidates from appearing twice on a ballot. The change would mean Kentucky Republicans would allocate their presidential delegates in a caucus and also hold a primary in May to nominate candidates for other offices, including Senate.

Paul had previously asked the state legislature to change the law, which Paul believes is unconstitutional, but that has yielded no results.

Last month, RPK’s executive committee voted to hold a presidential caucus, but with the condition that Paul pay for part of it ahead of time.

Paul’s presidential bid has run into struggles to gain ground against the other contenders in recent months.

But the campaign has consistently vowed to pay for the full cost of the caucus, instead of allowing all the costs fall to the state party.

With the $250,000 payment in place, plans can move forward.

The next step is for the party to hire a caucus director, said Scott Lasley, a member of the RPK executive committee and a special committee created to explore a caucus plan.

He said once that person is hired, formal planning for the caucus will begin.

“That person will be able to start reaching out to the county parties because there is going to have to be significant amounts of information disseminated to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Lasley said.

And there is going to be a lot of work to do in a relatively short amount of time. The caucus is scheduled for less than six months from now.

“They are going to have to prepare the guidelines and work with the county chairs to develop caucus plans — line up locations, where the caucuses are going to be held,” he said. “So, there is going to be plenty of work.”

The stakes are high. County party chairs will be carrying out the caucus in their respective counties. Lasley said there will be added pressure because they will be in the public eye, and they’ll carry the biggest burden for the caucus.

“There is not a trial run for something like this,” he said. “We got to make sure we do it right from the start.”

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