Friday, May 11, 2007

Fletcher, Northup Commence Riot

As previously stated, Fletcher and Northup are intent on destroying one another. Watch, as they claw each other’s eyes out and light each other on fire… on television!

Campaign quickies: R wars and D spats

1. In my Wednesday column (written Tuesday afternoon), I noted that a good guide for judging the effectiveness of former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's stepped-up attacks on Gov. Ernie Fletcher's record would be the level of the response from the Fletcher camp. Not long after I typed those words, the Fletcher camp started firing back at Northup. In the 48 hours since, this primary has become the Republican bloodletting everyone predicted. The Northup and Fletcher campaigns are slinging ads and press releases at each other like one is a Hatfield and the other is a McCoy.

2. If the fierceness of Fletcher's counterattacks against Northup indicates a tightening in that race, the way other Democratic wannabes went after former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear on the subject of gambling at a Frankfort forum Tuesday suggests there are polls in that race showing Beshear at or near the lead.

3. In the LOL category, we have a quote from Fletcher campaign manager Marty Ryall in today's H-L story on Fletcher's refusal to disclose the names of contributors to his secret legal defense fund. Responding to the possibility that contributors to the fund might be repaid with appointments, Ryall said, "That's not the way this governor does business. People are appointed on their merits."

Northup, Fletcher step up attacks

After launching attack ads Tuesday, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and opponent Anne Northup fired off another round of political spit wads yesterday. Northup, one of two challengers to Fletcher in the May 22 GOP primary, called on Fletcher to immediately release the names of donors to a legal defense fund that will pay his bills from the state hiring investigation. Her campaign suggested that Fletcher might be trading political favors for donations to the fund.

Fletcher responded by accusing the former U.S. representative from Louisville of violating congressional ethics rules in 2002. The third candidate, Paducah businessman Billy Harper, said the ethics accusations coming from both sides have merit. But don't expect him to join the name-calling anytime soon, said press secretary Sam Edelen. "Billy's just keeping his head down, working hard and watching the mud fly over," Edelen said.

Northup and Fletcher attack again

After slinging mud all day Tuesday, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and opponent Anne Northup started shooting political spit wads at one another this afternoon. In a news release, Northup called on Fletcher to immediately release the names of donors to a fund set up earlier this year that will pay his lawyer bills related to the state hiring investigation. Lt. Gov. Steve Pence blasted his boss.

Fletcher's Counterstrike Begins

When Northup filed to challenge Fletcher last year, I thought Anne was making a huge mistake. She was a moderate Republican representing the moderate city of Louisville. Outside of Louisville and Lexington the state is much more conservative on social and economic issues. This means that only 1/4th of the state had similar political leanings of Northup. I am defining her political leanings as shown by her votes in both the state legislature and congress.

Fletcher on the other hand has always been more conservative than Northup and won the 6th district race because he swept the rural areas outside of Lexington. That means that Fletcher had 3/4 of the state with similar leanings. So Northup's only choice was to run a slash and burn strategy to disenfranchise Fletcher with the conservatives in the state. A strategy with which she has executed with great precision. I don't know how effective it has been, but it has been well executed. Why do I say this? Take for example the recent "scandal" over paying for campaign trips.

Northup disputes Fletcher's ad, Fletcher announces support.

A day after the mini "slugfest" continued on TV, the Northup ticket has released the following statement in response to Fletcher's ad posted below: Yesterday Ernie Fletcher went on the attack with his new television ad, misleading voters into thinking that Anne Northup voted against school prayer and for a massive tax increase.

Fletcher responds to Northup; then she fires back

Here is the response from Fletcher campaign spokesman Marty Ryall to the call by Anne Northup to release the contributors to the governor's legal defense fund.

Marty Ryall, Campaign Manager for Governor Ernie Fletcher, said today, “Anne Northup is the last person who should be preaching to anyone about ethics.”

“In 2002 Anne Northup used her position on the Appropriations Committee to funnel $5 million dollars to a charity that she founded and was a board member. This was a direct violation of Congressional ethics rules,” Ryall said.

Now, here is the retort from the Northup camp.

Ernie Fletcher is clearly desperate to change the subject and would love to dredge up old news all day long. Anne Northup did not have any personal, financial or political gain in servicing the most at risk parts of the community she represented while in Congress.

As to his claim that she should have changed the law while in the state House—you don’t need a law to know the difference between right and wrong. Since Ernie Fletcher does not understand that he finds himself on his last political leg.

Governor Hits Back at Northup

I don't pretend to be a political strategist, but I've always heard that when you're safely ahead you don't acknowledge your opponents attacks. Does the fact that the Governor's campaign has gone on the attack against Anne Northup reflect a sense that things are going south? There's no question Anne Northup is the underdog going into the homestretch. But if there's a closer in the world who can close this gap, it's Anne Northup. As Mitch McConnell said of her surge in the final days of her first Congressional race: "Anne seemed to just will the SOB out of office." Can history repeat itself?

Northup: Fletcher owes more $$ for campaign trips

Republican gubernatorial candidate Anne Northup says Gov. Ernie Fletcher owes more money for campaigning on state time, mainly incurring costs related to travel to events that included the 4th District GOP dinner. Fletcher has already repaid about $20,000. Here is the Northup statement. Love the truffles comment.

Fletcher responds to Northup

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has released this statement in response to Anne Northup calling on him to reimburse taxpayers for his campaign expenses. In response to Anne Northup’s continual negative attacks on Governor Fletcher, Marty Ryall said today, “The hypocrisy of Anne Northup knows no bounds. The Governor has gone well above what is required in regard to his travel. She should climb off her high horse for a few minutes and pay back the federal government for her congressional mailings that were seen as campaign related.”

Conservative Edge Exposes Northup Scandal

Northup funneled federal money into her district through corp she helped control- but criticized Governor Fletcher for distributing state funds

Over the past few weeks, the Northup for Governor campaign and her cyber supporters have been loudly criticizing Governor Fletcher for distributing tax dollars to various communities around the state. Uber Northup supporter, Steve Manning of On the Right has indignantly insisited that Fletcher has been using tax payer money to win re-election.

But as CE reported exclusively yesterday, then Congress woman Anne Northup set up a charitable organization in Louisville, put herself in a controlling position on the board of the organization and then used her position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee to funnel millions of dollars to the charity. The tax payer money was distributed in Northup's congressional district.

Governor Fletcher's distribution of funds comes under his authority as Governor. The money he is distributing is state tax dollars that the various communities requested through grant applications. Under Kentucky law, it's the Governor who must decide on approval of the money.

But, Roll Call magazine called Northup's arrangement unethical on its face. The federal money that was distributed to the charity, was personally funneled by Northup. Then, Northup sat on the board of directors of the charity which made the decisions on how the tax payers money would be spent in her own congressional district.

The Conservative Edge is at a loss to explain how Fletcher's actions are unethical, but Northup's activities are. Democratic Congressman Allan Mollohan, whom Northup cited as a roll model for her arrangement, is under investigation by a federal grand jury for funneling federal money into charitable organizations in his congressional district. It's interesting to note that Mollohan was not on the board of directors for any of the charities for which he is now being investigated.

Considering that Anne Northup has made such an issue over Governor Fletcher's activities, Republican primary voters deserve an explanation from the Northup campaign on her own actions. Northup's camp has been proud of her commericals which feature supposed attack ads by Demorcats of Governor Fletcher during the fall campaign were he to win the nomination. The Conservative Edge can envision the same type of attack ads against Northup in the fall campaign on this issue. We call on Northup to offer a full explanation, provide a copy of any written ethics opinion, and release the financial records on the use of the federal dollars.

Did Northup receive a written opinion? Republicans deserve to know before the elections

As The Conservative Edge reported exclusively yesterday, the well respected capitol hill congressional watchdog magazine, Roll Call, reported in May of 2002 that then Congress woman Anne Northup set up a charitable organization, placed herself on the board of directors, and then used her seat on the "powerful" House Appropriations Committee to funnel millions of federal tax dollars to the charity. The charity in turn, funneled those funds into Northup's Congressional district. When the arrangement was exposed, Northup nixed the deal.

Roll Call called the arrangement unethical on its face. Northup defended the arrangement citing as her role model, Democratic Congressman Allan Mollohan and his work funneling federal funds to various charities in W.Va. We now know that Mollohan was forced to resign his position on the House Ethics Committee in part for funneling tax payer money to those charities. Mollohan is also under grand jury investigation and FBI scrutiny for the same actions.

However, Northup claimed in 2002 that she had received verbal approval of the arrangement. Roll Call said that the Committees doesn't give verbal approval and urged Northup to get a written opinion and make the opinion public. Considering that Northup has claimed the "ethics mantle" in the GOP primary, Republican voters deserve to know before the primary on May 22nd, if Northup ever received such a written finding and if so, what the opinion stated. The Northup campaign can forward the opinion to CE for publication. Likewise, if the Fletcher campaign wants to determine that no such written ethics opinion was ever obtained by Northup we will publish that as well.

Fletcher Discloses Tax History… Now?

Fletcher releases tax returns? This maneuver seemed forced. Why? Because, this maneuver was forced. Obviously, Fletcher is desperate. This release was his last gasp. This release was pathetic.

From Pol Watchers:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher released his 2006 state and federal income tax returns today and called on opponents Anne Northup and Billy Harper to do the same. "They are self-funding a significant portion of their campaign activity and the voters deserve to see where this money is coming from," said Marty Ryall, Fletcher's campaign manager.

Spokesmen for Northup and Harper were not immediately available for comment. Harper, a Paducah construction company owner, has spent at least $4.9 million on his bid for governor, while Northup, a former congresswoman from Louisville, has put $500,000 into her campaign. Fletcher's tax returns show he paid $12,049 to the federal government and $4,819 to the state. He had income of $124,118 last year, including $119,703 from the state. Most of the remaining income came when Fletcher sold shares of Neuberger Berman for $10,862 on April 24. He profited $2,344.

After itemized deductions of $40,426, his federal taxable income was $77,092. Fletcher's deductions included $18,728 for interest paid on a home mortgage and $9,767 in charitable donations. Fletcher and the First Lady, Glenna, are expecting a $9,067 refund from the federal government and a $1,856 refund from the state.

Michael Clingaman, Northup's campaign manager, has released this statement: “If I had an unethical secret legal defense fund like Ernie Fletcher does, I would also desperately try and change the subject. Anne and Woody’s tax returns would reveal proprietary information concerning Woody’s business and therefore must be kept private. But Anne is interested in full disclosure, and has filled out the more extensive congressional disclosure forms. While Anne has done the right thing we continue to wait for Ernie Fletcher to disclose the names of those who donated to his secret legal fund.”

Harper will release his tax returns, said press secretary Sam Edelen. "It could take a couple of days to get it all together," he said.

Terrible Speak

From Elendil’s Journal:

Ok, I have seen this on two different sites now.

Fletcher is also failing to tell the full story when he says that Anne voted for a tax increase in 1990 while serving in the State House. The bill he’s referring to was legislation to reform Kentucky’s failing education system. Kentucky’s children deserve the best education opportunities possible. Only a desperate Ernie Fletcher would stoop so low as to make school reforms into a political charge.

For me to swallow this spin, I have to believe two things: Tax increases are OK if the intentions are good. KERA was a positive change for Kentucky's kids.

What conservative in their right mind thinks KERA was a good idea? Are Northup supporters all of a sudden fans of KERA? People need to think before they blindly print campaign spin. Truth of the matter remains that KERA was Northup's worst vote in here entire political career. You can't just spin that away.

Why Is This A Question?

From OSI Speaks:

The latest issue in the still mini (?) "slugfest" that pits Northup against Fletcher has the Northup campaign asking Fletcher to release the names of contributors to Fletcher's still secret legal defense fund, which was set up to help defray the legal bills from the merit system investigation. This time, Steve Pence has joined the call for openness, taking Fletcher to task in the process. "Republicans across the state need to know if this is the next looming scandal," Steve Pence is quoted as saying. "The public deserves to know whether anyone that is doing business with the state, that has a contract or is seeking a contract, or received a commission or appointment from the state, has donated to this secret legal fund," he continued.

Though state law doesn't require him to do so, Fletcher says he'll release the names "after Attorney General Greg Stumbo leaves office" in December, a suggestion which prompted Steve Pence to add: "He's afraid of what it will disclose. It's going to look bad."

Fletcher's campaign then questioned Northup's ethics over an organization she set up to help with developments for disadvantaged neighborhoods stating that "Anne Northup is the last person who should be preaching to anyone about ethics," which drew a retort from the Northup camp that "Ernie Fletcher is clearly desperate to change the subject...".

Today, the Fletchers released their income tax returns, showing they made just over $124,000.00 last year, and called on their opponents to do the same. There have been no responses yet from the Northup and Harper campaigns. Meanwhile, a new 527 organization, Working Families for Kentucky, has launched a new ad targeting the campaign of the Lunsford/Stumbo ticket for Bruce Lunsford's support of Fletcher's 2003 campaign, which Lunsford now says he "regrets". Watch the video.

So the question of whether to reveal or not to reveal the "secret" list ought to be answered in the affirmative, especially since Fletcher is in the revealing mode with his income tax returns and particularly if his opponents respond to his call by releasing their own income tax returns (though the two issues are mutually exclusive).

Otherwise, one wonders if he can overcome the inference that waiting until Stumbo leaves office (and after the November elections) to release the information suggests, as Steve Pence suggests, that "[h]e's afraid of what it will disclose [because] [i]t's going to look bad", while leaving the unwelcome impression that Fletcher is deathly afraid of Greg Stumbo.
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