PRESS RELEASE: Independent Drew Curtis responds to Kentucky Farm Bureau debate

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 23, 2015 – Earlier today, gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin and Jack Conway debated agriculture issues at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Measure the Candidates forum. As an Independent candidate, Drew Curtis was refused an invitation. However, in the interests of informing voters about all candidates, we would like to take this opportunity to briefly share some of Curtis’s views on the questions that were asked.

Will you support allocating 50 percent of the Master Settlement Agreement fund to farm development?

“This is another instance where we need to act on data, not ideology. It sounds good to say that we want to give more money to farmers, but we also have the duty to ask what, specifically, will be done with these funds. If more funding is allocated to farm development, what other programs get cut? Lung cancer research? Critical health care programs for young children?”

How will your administration contribute to developing agricultural business and productivity?

“The best thing we can do to help rural and agricultural development is to ensure that all Kentuckians have access to broadband internet. I’m an internet entrepreneur who created and ran Frankfort’s first successful internet service provider–I have the knowledge to help bring Kentucky into the 21st Century.”

Kentucky Farm Bureau supports an adequately funded Department of Agriculture. We urge adequate funding for research facilities, agriculture programs at colleges, etc. As governor, will you support adequate funding for those programs?

“Yes, so long as the state has enough money to fund them and the funds are being used in a way that benefits everyday Kentuckians. If they can prove greater returns on investment I’m open to it, but nobody is getting checks for doing nothing.”

Will you support the full intent of HB 44?

“I’m strongly opposed. HB 44 capped property taxes at 4 percent per year. When it was enacted, property taxes were more than 30 percent of revenues. Today it’s 9 percent and falling. It’s decimating our school system; several failed county school systems have resulted from this, in fact.”

Will you continue the initiative that dedicates 22.2% of gas tax revenues to rural road development?

“We need to make sure Kentucky has a solid infrastructure plan. Not only is this a safety issue for Kentuckians, but better roads also make us more attractive to businesses wanting to expand here. It just makes sense.”

Farmers depend on the environment to make our living. Unreasonable environmental regulations are bad for us. What will you do to protect farmers from unreasonable regulations?

“It depends on which specific environmental regulations you mean. In general though, we can surely be smart enough to figure out how to balance farm profits with preserving Kentuckians’ health, property value and our land’s natural beauty. It does not profit Kentucky in the long run to have poorly contained manure from CAFO’s polluting our waterways, for example.”

What will you do to emphasize tech ed?

“Not everyone wants or needs to go to college in order to succeed, so we should absolutely emphasize and fund more vocational and tech training. It’s just a better use of the state’s money. I’m a member of the Lexington Economic Development Board, and part of that is helping small business owners get started. As a successful entrepreneur, I know what skills we need to be teaching to help Kentuckians succeed.”

Will extended employment for ag teachers be a priority?

“Sure, they should be paid for the work they do.”

Would you support tort reform in Kentucky to help make us more business friendly?

“I’m staunchly opposed to trial attorneys abusing the courts system, but the lifetime loss of earning potential for a serious injury can be way more than $250,000.”

Kentucky will have to start paying for Medicaid expansion. What’s your plan?

“At the most, Kentucky will be on the hook for 10 percent of that cost. The best thing we can do is to improve Kentucky’s economy so that not as many people will need Medicaid, and reform the pension system so the state doesn’t go broke.”

Would you support continuing involvement with the Water Management Working Group to develop a plan to mitigate drought?

“Yes.”

What will you as governor do to support and regrow the tobacco industry in Kentucky?

“That ship has sailed. Tobacco consumption in the US has been declining for years, and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides isn’t enough to sustain tobacco farmers. Tobacco farmers need to diversify with crops such as hemp and medical marijuana in order to prosper in today’s economy.”

Closing statement

“Bevin and Conway spent the debate trying their hardest to trash talk each other while agreeing on just about every single point. What else is there to say about the two of them? Bevin is a Tea Party extremist and Conway is trying so hard to get Republican swing voters that he was actually quoting Reagan. If Kentucky voters want a real change in Kentucky, they need to vote for a candidate who looks at facts first, not party politics.”

Drew Curtis is a Lexington businessman, digital entrepreneur, and the independent candidate for governor of Kentucky. He has been the sole owner and chief operator of Fark.com, one of the world’s most popular news aggregator websites, since he founded it 16 years ago. In addition to being an expert on the subject of mass media and news, he is a member of Lexington’s Economic Development Investment Board and the University of Kentucky’s Innovation Network for Entrepreneurial Thinking. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

For more information, please contact:

Heather Chapman

Communications Director

Drew Curtis for Governor
(859) 221-4862

chapman@drewcurtis.com

Kentucky governor’s race in a nutshell for union members: Jack Conway is for us and Matt Bevin is not.

By BERRY CRAIG

“Why vote? There’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

We’ve all heard that just about every time there’s an election. Okay, sometimes it is hard to tell Republicans from Democrats in Kentucky.

Not all Democrats are in labor’s corner. About half of the county officials who voted for those local “right to work” ordinances are Democrats. Make that “Democrats.”

Conservative “Democrats” are given to trying to out-Republican Republicans – and not just in the Bluegrass State.

Nonetheless, there is a world of difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor this year.

GOP hopeful Matt Bevin says the difference is “night and day.” He’s right, too, especially if you pack a union card like I do.

Attorney Gen. Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate, is a moderate by Kentucky standards and moderately conservative measured against a national yardstick. By any gauge, Bevin is an ultra-conservative, even for a Kentucky politician.

Bevin is a fan of the extreme right wing, anti-union tea party. His running mate, Jenean Hampton, is a tea party activist.

Bevin might come across as just another button-downed, run-of-the-mill country club Republican. But he is way beyond conservative. He has a history with reactionary fringe candidates and fringe groups.

In 2004, his choice for president was Mike Peroutka, who the Human Rights Campaign called an “active white supremacist.” Avowed white supremacist Earl Holt III gave $500 to Bevin’s campaign for the 2014 GOP senate nomination.

Only when the media found him out did Bevin disavow his racist donor. Feeling the heat, he and Hampton each pledged $500 to a minority scholarship fund.

Bevin is quick to point out that Hampton is African American. Like him, she is anti-union and ultra-conservative.

Not surprisingly, racists Peroutka and Holt are fiercely anti-union. “The labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said in a speech at the 1961 AFL-CIO convention.

When he ran against Sen. Mitch McConnell last year, Bevin cozied with a Kentucky branch of the reactionary and conspiratorialist John Birch Society. The group equated unions with communism and claimed the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was a communist plot to create “a Negro Soviet Republic in the United States.”

Anyway, Check out Bevin’s website: Under the topic “LABOR LAW REFORM” the website says, “Our plan will update our current labor laws that currently result in self-inflicted economic wounds. This begins with passing comprehensive Right to Work legislation and eliminating prevailing wage requirements for state contracts.”

Hampton is also pro-right to work and anti-prevailing wage. “When elected I will sponsor a bill to make Kentucky a Right to Work (RTW) state,” the Bowling Green Daily News quoted Hampton last year when she unsuccessfully ran for the state House against Rep. Jodie Richards, D-Bowling Green.

On the other side, Conway, who received the Kentucky State AFL-CIO-endorsement, opposes RTW at all levels.

He issued an official opinion warning that county RTW ordinances are illegal under federal labor law. He also filed an amicus curae (friend of the court) brief in support of the suit nine unions brought against Hardin County’s RTW ordinance.

Conway supports the prevailing wage. Likewise, his running mate, State Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, is anti-RTW and pro-prevailing wage.

At any rate, just about every time there’s an election, candidates tell us it’s the most important election in our lifetime. Often they mean their lifetime.

They remind me of the parable of the little boy who cried “wolf” so often nobody believed him when the wolf really showed up.

The wolf is at the door in Kentucky, notably if you belong to a union. Bevin wants to be a bare-knucks union-buster in the mold of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Walker is Bevin’s hero.

Walker “has fundamentally transformed that state,” Bevin said on “The Glenn Beck Show.” “You just start putting the correct principles in, and jobs come rolling in and your debt goes away. And things just turn around.”

Correct principles? Walker declared holy war on organized labor. He and his like-minded GOP-majority legislature gutted the state’s public sector unions and made Wisconsin a “right to work” state. “Membership in the Wisconsin affiliate of the National Education Association is down one-third; the American Federation of Teachers dropped by one-half; the state employees union fell 70 percent,”  wrote David Dayen in Salon. “….Overall, union membership in Wisconsin has fallen to 11.7 percent, down from 16 percent 10 years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Jobs and Debt? “When he took office in 2011, Walker said the creation of 250,000 jobs would be his benchmark for success, the Chicago Tribune reported. “Walker missed that goal by a wide margin over his first term despite an embrace of sweeping tax cuts aimed at stimulating growth. Instead, the cuts helped dig a more than $2 billion hole in the state budget.

“Wisconsin ranked 36th among the states and District of Columbia in the pace of private-sector job growth during Walker’s term, trailing all Rust Belt states and all but one other state in the Midwest.”

Things that turn around? “At the close of 2010, a year and a half after the recession officially ended, Wisconsin could claim one of the better economic recoveries in the country,” wrote Bloomberg View’s Christopher Flavell.

“Employment had grown at a faster clip than in most states, and the value of Wisconsin’s publicly traded companies was up almost 40 percent. Tax revenue, a sign of economic health, had risen more than 50 percent.

“Then Scott Walker became governor. Over the four years that followed, Wisconsin’s economic performance ranked 35th in the country, according to the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States, which tracks the change in a series of economic indicators.”

Dayen also wrote that worker voices can play a huge role in the growth of wages. “Scott Walker has taken that voice away from public unions, and effectively the entire Wisconsin labor movement, which finds itself crippled. That has real consequences for middle-class wages. Since Walker wants to bring this policy menu to the rest of the country in 2016, people on Main Streets outside of Wisconsin should take note.”

in 2015, Kentucky union members who don’t “take note” do so at the peril of their unions and their livelihoods. Walker’s Wisconsin looks like Bevin’s blueprint for Kentucky.

A question for Matt Bevin and Rand Paul

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

Why would a white supremacist give you money?

“Add Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin’s name to the list of Republicans who have received campaign donations from a white supremacist referenced in the manifesto of the man who allegedly shot and killed nine people last week in Charleston, S.C.,” the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Sam Youngman recently wrote.

Matt Bevin’s benefactor is Earl Holt III, president of the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens.

Holt’s group “is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

“Among other things, its Statement of Principles says that it ‘oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind,'” the website says. “Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC, which initially tried to project a ‘mainstream’ image, has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group whose website has run pictures comparing the late pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to black people as ‘a retrograde species of humanity.’”

In December, 2013, Holt contributed $500 to the Bevin for senate campaign, according to Youngman’s story. Bevin lost to Sen. Mitch McConnell in the May, 2014, GOP primary.

Holt obviously figured the tea party-tilting Bevin was a good investment.

On the campaign trail Bevin buddy-buddied with a Bluegrass State branch of the reactionary and conspiratorialist John Birch Society. The Birchers claimed the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was a communist plot to create “a Negro Soviet Republic in the United States.”

No doubt, Mike Peroutka, who ran for president in 2004, would agree with the Birch Society. The Human Rights Campaign called him an “active white supremacist and secessionist sympathizer,” Youngman wrote in another story.

Bevin said he voted for Peroutka, candidate of the far right wing Constitution Party.

Peroutka’s endorsers included the League of the South, “a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans,'” according to the SPLC website. “The ‘godly’ nation envisioned by the League should be run by an ‘Anglo-Celtic’ (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities.”

Bevin’s benefactor Holt is a hero to Dylann Roof, the avowed white supremacist who is accused of murdering nine African Americans in Charleston’s historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Holt’s largess extended to several other Republicans, including Rand Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator. Paul’s political action committee pocketed $1,750 of Holt’s money, Youngman wrote.

Holt clearly figured Paul, another tea party hero, was worth some cash, too.

After all, when Paul ran for the senate in 2010, he criticized aspects of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, but backpedaled.

Nonetheless, the “criticism mirrored the views of his father [Rep. Ron Paul], who stood up on the House floor when it celebrated the 40th anniversary of the act in 2004 and denounced it as ‘a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society,’” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported in 2010.

In 2006, according to the Washington Post, Paul wrote a letter to his hometownBowling Green Daily News claiming the U.S. Fair Housing Act, another important civil rights law, “ignores the distinction between private and public property.” Paul added: “Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate.”

Now Bevin and Paul can’t give away Holt’s dough fast enough. Bevin’s campaign manager said Bevin and his running mate, Jenean Hampton, who is African American, will each give $500 to a scholarship fund for minority students, according to Youngman.

Paul’s staff said he is contributing $1,750 to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund to help families of the murder victims, Youngman wrote.

Anyway, I suspect that before Holt’s contributions hit the news, few Kentuckians had even heard of him and his group. There is plenty more about Holt and the CCC on the SPLC website.

For example, the CCC’s newspaper, “Citizens Informer, regularly publishes articles condemning ‘race mixing,’ decrying the evils of illegal immigration, and lamenting the decline of white, European civilization,” the website says.

The website also lists some CCC quotes and their sources:

“God is the author of racism. God is the One who divided mankind into different types. … Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God.” — Council of Conservative Citizens website, 2001

“We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people. … We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.” —Statement of Principles, Citizens Informer, 2007

Youngman wrote that “Holt has contributed to dozens of Republicans, most of them “racing to donate the money to charitable causes.”

This old reporter hopes some young speedster from the Fourth Estate will chase after the fleeing Republicans—especially Bevin and Paul—and ask them two questions:

“Why would a white supremacist give you money?”

“Why did you take the money?”

Of course, Bevin and Paul would hotly deny they are bigots. Four of Bevin’s adopted children are black.

But their campaigns accepted money from a big-time bigot. Bevin and Paul didn’t give away the cash until the media called their hand on where it came from.

 

Protect My Check pretzel twisters

By BERRY CRAIG

The way they twist themselves, the folks at Protect My Check ought to start a pretzel factory.

PMC is the Florida-based anti-union group that is helping push county “right to work ordinances” in Kentucky.

PMC claims the measures are legal under the state’s home rule law. The group claims it favors “state sovereignty.”

Unions are challenging the ordinances in federal court, arguing that the National Labor Relations Act says states and territories pass can right to work laws.

Meanwhile, the PMC has rummaged around and found a Kentucky law it doesn’t like – the one that prohibits corporations from giving money to political parties and candidates for state offices.

Suddenly, mum’s the word from PMC about “state sovereignty.” Now they’re fans of federalism, or at least Uncle Sam’s judiciary.

On PMC’s behalf, the reactionary, anti-union Goldwater Institute of Arizona is suing in federal court to get the Kentucky law overturned. Both PMC and the institute are closely tied to the billionaire Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

So the folks at PMC are gung-ho for “state sovereignty” when it suits them. But they’re fans of federalism when it suits them better.

PMC bosses and staffers would make a fortune as pretzel twisters.