Phillip M. Bailey

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

 

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Government
12:36 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Urging Senate Democrats to Join Defund Obamacare Fight, McConnell Rejects Cruz's Plan

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 5:46 am

Speaking on the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cut ties with Sen. Ted Cruz's threat to use a filibuster against a bill with language defunding the president's health care law.

Facing increasing criticism from conservative groups and a primary opponent, McConnell argued Senate Democrats need to join the effort in order to take out funding for Obamacare while avoiding a government shutdown.

"I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare," McConnell said. "All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that."

The House passed a spending measure to fund the federal government past Oct. 1, but it does not pay for the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz is urging the GOP caucus to vote against that legislation because Democrats have indicated they will amend it to restore the health care law's funding. He argues any vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor is in effective supporting Obamacare as a whole.

Rather than focus on GOP infighting, McConnell proposed Democrats ought to join the effort to defund the law by having a simple majority vote on the House bill.

"Democrats have been hearing the same complaints about Obamacare the rest of us have. The spotlight should really be on them. This is a rare opportunity to defund the law with a simple majority. We should have that vote," he said.

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Politics
1:15 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Senate Democrats Blocking McConnell's Coal Bill Puts Alison Lundergan Grimes in Tough Spot

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 2:31 pm

The pro-coal message of Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was complicated by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, who blocked a bill introduced by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to ease federal regulations.

Reid's actions comes just days after Grimes called on the Obama administration to hold off on new environmental restrictions.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell asked for unanimous consent on his  "Saving Coal Jobs Act" to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing carbon emission standards for power plants.

"The EPA has already stifled the permitting process for new coal mines; the agency has done this so dramatically that they have effectively shut down many coal mines through illegitimate, dilatory tactics," McConnell said. "The EPA’s actions ignore the thousands of people in my home state of Kentucky who depend on the coal industry for their livelihoods."

Reid quickly objected to delay the bill while promising to hold a vote at a later date despite McConnell's urgency that the measure is needed now ahead of new EPA emission standards this week.

A coal industry leader had already raised doubts about Grimes being a more effective voice for Kentucky coal operators and miners than McConnell. But Reid's maneuvering raises further questions about whether Grimes can stand up to the Democratic leader while relying on him politically to unseat McConnell.

"Alison isn't afraid to stand up to members of either party," a Grimes campaign aide told WFPL. "She will stand up for Kentucky as its next U.S. Senator. When she is in the Senate she will get things done on behalf of Kentucky's working families. Today just underscores McConnell's weakness and ineffectiveness. His influence isn't working and he's unable to deliver for the people of Kentucky."
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Politics
10:17 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Citing Racial Disparities, Senator Rand Paul Favors Restoration of Felon Voting Rights

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 4:17 pm

Acknowledging racial disparities in U.S. drug and sentencing laws, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is calling for the restoration of felon voting rights in state and federal laws.

The Tea Party favorite also says the consequence of those punitive measures is the chief culprit behind voter disenfranchisement in African-American communities.

"The biggest impediment to voting rights, right now, are convicted felons. One in three young black males has been convicted of a felony and they’ve lost their voting rights. I think it dwarfs all other (election-related) issues," says Paul.

Paul made the comments at a forum hosted by the Plymouth Community Renewal Center in west Louisville on Monday. It is part of the libertarian-leaning senator's continued effort to close the gap between Republicans and black voters, which began with a speech at Howard University this spring.

Among the measures Paul's office touted to those in attendance was co-sponsoring a bill with Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to give judges more discretion in sentencing federal drug cases.

Speaking to a handful of community activists and residents, Paul outlined how he also hopes to put forward a measure that would restore a felon's voting rights at the federal level five years after their release.

"We haven't decided which crimes yet, but I think particularly for non-violent drug crimes where people made a youthful mistake I think they ought to get their rights back," he says.

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Government
3:16 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Stumbo Calls for Investigation of Rep. John Arnold, Could Lead to Censure or Expulsion

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 5:51 am

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has filed a petition that would allow the House to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against Democratic Representative John Arnold, D-Sturgis.

State lawmakers could then vote to censure or expel the Western Kentucky lawmaker.

In addition to the petition, the House Committee on Committees is sending Arnold a letter saying that he will be suspended as chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance and Public Protection.

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Politics
10:56 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Louisville Tea Party President Endorses Matt Bevin Over Mitch McConnell

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:06 am

Saying she is proud to have been attacked by Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign, Louisville Tea Party President Wendy Caswell is endorsing Republican Matt Bevin in Kentucky's U.S. Senate primary race.

The nod from Caswell is a key pickup for the Bevin campaign that comes weeks after two prominent tea party activists in Louisville backed McConnell in next year's GOP primary.

In a Courier-Journal op-ed, Caswell says McConnell is more concerned with increasing his own political power than conservative principles.

"Sen. Mitch McConnell represents the old guard in Washington D.C. that cares more about holding on to power than defending the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom. Those are the principles that Matt Bevin believes in. I know he believes in those fundamental conservative ideals because he has embodied them in his life's experiences," she says.

The endorsement from Caswell was likely helped by a web video attacking the activist.

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Politics
10:07 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Conservative PAC's Radio Ad Echoes Matt Bevin Attacks on Mitch McConnell

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 9:29 am

A conservative group is launching its first radio ad in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race criticizing Republican Senator Mitch McConnell for his voting record.

Led by former Republican Congressman Jim Ryun, the Madison Project endorsed McConnell’s GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin last month, and is running what they say will be the first of many statewide ads against the incumbent.

It's a relatively small $30,000 ad buy, but the 60-second spot slams McConnell’s votes on immigration reform, Wall Street bailouts and the debt ceiling.

Listen:

Daniel Horowitz is the policy director of The Madison Project. He says the Kentucky Senate race is about McConnell’s leadership and a larger debate about the GOP at-large.

"We want to have a long-form discussion both about McConnell’s record in Kentucky and also really a discussion over the future of the Republican Party. Is this going to be the party of Reagan, Cruz and DeMint or is this the party of Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell? And it’s about time we had this fight over the future of the party," he says.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Kentucky House Democratic Leaders Knew of Sexual Harassment Claims, Filing Says

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:15 pm

A Democratic state lawmaker says some of his colleagues told him to keep quiet allegations of sexual harassment and assault against a fellow legislator to protect the party's majority in upcoming elections

After WFPL News reported the accusations against state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, early Wednesday, Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, took to the House floor to speak out against what he described as a culture of intimidation and sexism in the legislature.

In separate ethics complaints filed last week, two longtime Frankfort staffers, Cassaundra Cooper and Yolanda Costner, outline a pattern of alleged harassment by Arnold dating back to 2010.

According to both women, they brought these issues to the attention of the Legislative Research Commission and top House Democratic leaders.

In a statement to ethics officials, Cooper alleges that on Feb. 14 Arnold walked up behind her and slapped her buttocks. She said she told House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and his chief of staff about the incident, but Arnold continued visiting her office and attempted to hug Cooper, the complaint said.

Costner's statement alleges that Arnold grabbed her underwear in March 2010, but that House Majority Whip Rep. John Will Stacy told her "(Arnold) was harmless."

Riner said a third woman is coming forward and that protecting staffers, who have little job security, matters more to him than who controls the state House.

"You cannot put this off until the next election," he said. "You cannot put this off until tomorrow. There are some things that are more important than which party gets in power. And one of those things is how we treat people that we have power over."

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Politics
11:36 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Mitch McConnell Campaign Ad: Matt Bevin 'Dishonest' About MIT Résumé

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 1:42 pm

The campaign to re-elect Republican Senator Mitch McConnell launched a stinging attack ad against primary challenger Matt Bevin over his claims of educational ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the 30-second spot, McConnell's campaign highlights reports from The Hill earlier this year about the Louisville businessman's LinkedIn page.

In March, Bevin had listed MIT under his education profile based his attendance at an entrepreneurial program on the MIT campus.

Critics argued Bevin was misleading people that he was either a MIT graduate or graduated from a MIT affiliated program.

Bevin later revised his social networking page after school officials told The Hill it was a three-week seminar with no formal link to the school.

Watch:

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Politics
10:40 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Tea Party Ads Pressure Mitch McConnell, GOP Senators to Defund Obamacare

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 9:11 am

A pair of Tea Party groups are increasing their pressure on Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus to de-fund President Obama's health care at all costs.

Recently, McConnell questioned that strategy and said a government shutdown would not halt the Affordable Care Act's implementation.

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake reports Tea Party Patriots and For America are targeting McConnell's caucus in a series of online advertisements in the hopes of gaining traction.

For America has already put out an ad essentially calling McConnell a "chicken" for not being more supportive.

Watch:

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NPR Story
2:55 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Rand Paul Says No Evidence of Racial Discrimination in Elections

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 5:22 pm

Speaking at the Louisville Forum this week, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., says there is no evidence that African-Americans are being barred from U.S. elections more than whites.

The comments come as several civil rights leaders announce they are launching a 50-state project aimed at reviving a historic law after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of it this year.

Many proponents argue a recent voter ID law in North Carolina is an example of legislation that wouldn’t have passed if the full Voting Rights Act was intact. Both the ACLU and NAACP have filed a pair of lawsuits alleging the state law is aimed at suppressing minority voters in upcoming elections.

Paul says there was once a time for the Voting Rights Act and there is still justification for the federal government to intervene if an individual's civil rights are violated.

But Kentucky's junior senator says any new provisions shouldn’t focus on southern states based on past cases of discrimination.

"The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government," he says. "So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."

In 2012, census figures showed black voter turnout was around 66 percent compared 64 percent among whites.

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