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July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016

Journalists from around the state discuss the week's news with host Bill Bryant. Guests: Ronnie Ellis, reporter, CNHI News Service; Joseph Gerth, political writer, Louisville Courier-Journal; and Lawrence Smith, reporter, WDRB-TV in Louisville.
S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere: 7.15.16

News of the Week: July 15, 2016

As the GOP gathers for its nominating convention, some high-profile Kentucky Republicans will be present in Cleveland this week while others have decided to stay home.

The journalists on KET’s Comment on Kentucky discussed what U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado are expected to say in their speeches to the convention. They also reviewed the latest on the University of Louisville’s leadership struggles and an allegation of gubernatorial bullying.

To Go or Not to Go to Cleveland
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scheduled to speak Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention. Joe Gerth of the Courier-Journal in Louisville says he expects the senator to “give lip service” to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. But Gerth says McConnell’s main goal will be to rally the Republican base to support the party’s senatorial candidates. McConnell’s future as majority leader hinges on the outcomes of 34 U.S. Senate races this year. Republicans currently hold 24 of those seats.

Then Wednesday at 9 p.m., state Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) will address the convention. As a Hispanic-American, Alvarado is expected to reach out to Latino voters that Trump has alienated with his campaign rhetoric, says Gerth.

Ronnie Ellis of CNHI News Service adds that Alvarado is both excited and nervous about his national debut. Ellis says the medical doctor and first-term senator will discuss his belief that America is a country of opportunity for all people, especially for Hispanics who are willing to work hard.

(The RNC runs Monday through Thursday of this week, followed by the Democratic National Convention next week. KET will air live coverage of both events, starting at 8 p.m. each evening.)

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles are among the Kentucky Republicans who won’t make the trip to Cleveland. Bill Bryant of WKYT-TV says Paul will spend the week conducting town hall meetings around the state as part of his reelection campaign. Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville says the Bowling Green ophthalmologist has pledged to support the GOP presidential nominee, even if Donald Trump’s comments against immigrant and minority communities are antithetical to Paul’s beliefs.

Trump appeared a private fundraiser at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky last week. Ellis says a number of individuals rallied at the Lexington venue to protest Trump’s positions on immigration and economic issues, including Nancy Jo Kemper, a Democrat running for the 6th District congressional seat.

Future of University President Remains Uncertain
The newly reconstituted University of Louisville Board of Trustees gathered for its first meeting on Wednesday. Gov. Bevin recently reorganized the group, shrinking its size from 17 appointed trustees to 10 members that he selected. Joe Gerth says one of Bevin’s appointments, Louisville venture capitalist Doug Cobb, declined to join the board. He says Cobb came under fire for controversial statements he made on social media about topics ranging from transgender individuals to global warming. Bevin named Louisville attorney Brian Cromer to take Cobb’s place on the board.

The meeting ended with confusion over the future of embattled President James Ramsey, who had earlier pledged to resign or retire once a new, legally constituted board was in place. Gerth says Board Chairman Junior Bridgeman originally said Ramsey’s departure was not discussed when the trustees went into a closed session. But the next day, Bridgeman said Ramsey did reiterate his resignation and the group declined to accept it. Bridgeman contends the new board needs time to get settled, and won’t consider Ramsey’s departure until after September.

Several news organizations questioned whether the closed-session discussion about Ramsey violated Kentucky’s open meetings law. Gerth says private discussions are allowed only for matters of hiring, firing, or reprimanding personnel.

Ronnie Ellis says many boards go into closed session to discuss things they don’t want made public that have nothing to do with personnel decisions. He says most closed sessions aren’t challenged, but this one was.

Ramsey’s future may also hinge on the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear challenging the governor’s authority to restructure the U of L board.  Ellis says if the court rules against Bevin, then his hand-picked trustees couldn’t legally decide Ramsey’s fate.

Bullying Allegations Disputed
Gov. Bevin has denied allegations that he threatened a Democratic legislator after he failed to convince the lawmaker to become a Republican.

Ellis reported the story that Bevin invited Rep. Kevin Sinnette (D-Ashland) to the governor’s mansion late last year to discuss switching his party affiliation. When Sinnette declined to change parties, Bevin allegedly threatened to ensure that Sinnette would lose his reelection bid this year. The next day Sinnette says his constituents in Boyd County received robocalls misrepresenting his position on abortion.

Speaking to reporters after a press conference Wednesday, Bevin called Sinnette’s claim and Ellis’ story “an absolute lie.” Bevin also argued that Ellis didn’t have independent confirmation of Sinnette’s story.

Ellis says he stands by his reporting. He says he gave the governor’s office two chances to respond to the story before publication on July 3, but they declined. Ellis says Sinnette, who is an attorney with reputation for integrity and honesty, has said he would swear under oath to the facts of the incident. Sinnette also claims to know of other Democratic lawmakers who had similar experiences.

Republicans have tried to gain control of the state House of Representatives by encouraging Democratic legislators to join their ranks. After the 2015 elections, Reps. Denny Butler of Louisville and Jim Gooch of Providence changed their affiliations to the GOP.

The opinions expressed on Comment on Kentucky and in this program synopsis are the responsibility of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of KET.

Program Details

Comment on Kentucky

About Comment on Kentucky

KET's longest-running public affairs program has been assembling journalists to offer perspectives on the week's news and newsmakers since 1974. The program is hosted by Bill Bryant.

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Season 42 Episodes

October 28, 2016

S42 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.28.16

October 21, 2016

S42 E51 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.21.16

October 14, 2016

S42 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.14.16

October 7, 2016

S42 E49 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.7.16

September 30, 2016

S42 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.30.16

September 23, 2016

S42 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.23.16

September 16, 2016

S42 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.15.16

September 9, 2016

S42 E45 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.9.16

September 2, 2016

S42 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.2.16

August 26, 2016

S42 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.26.16

August 19, 2016

S42 E42 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.19.16

August 12, 2016

S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.12.16

August 5, 2016

S42 E40 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.5.16

July 29, 2016

S42 E39 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.29.16

July 22, 2016

S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.22.16

July 15, 2016

S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.15.16

July 8, 2016

S42 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.7.16

July 1, 2016

S42 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.1.16

June 24, 2016

S42 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.24.16

June 17, 2016

S42 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.17.16

June 10, 2016

S42 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.10.16

June 3, 2016

S42 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.3.16

May 27, 2016

S42 E30 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.27.16

May 20, 2016

S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 5.20.16

May 13, 2016

S42 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.13.16

May 6, 2016

S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.6.16

April 29, 2016

S42 E26 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.29.16

April 22, 2016

S42 E25 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.22.16

April 15, 2016

S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.15.16

April 8, 2016

S42 E23 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 4.7.16

April 1, 2016

S42 E22 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.31.16

March 25, 2016

S42 E21 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.25.16

March 18, 2016

S42 E20 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.18.16

March 11, 2016

S42 E19 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.11.16

March 4, 2016

S42 E18 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.4.16

February 26, 2016

S42 E17 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.26.16

February 19, 2016

S42 E16 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.19.16

February 12, 2016

S42 E15 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 2.12.16

February 5, 2016

S42 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.5.16

January 29, 2016

S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 1.29.16

January 22, 2016

S42 E12 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.22.16

January 15, 2016

S42 E11 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.15.16

January 8, 2016

S42 E10 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.8.16

January 1, 2016

S42 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.1.16

December 18, 2015

S42 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.18.15

December 11, 2015

S42 E6 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 12.11.15

December 4, 2015

S42 E5 Length 24:51 Premiere Date 12.4.15

November 27, 2015

S42 E4 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.27.15

November 20, 2015

S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

November 13, 2015

S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

S42 E1 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.6.15

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