A Frankfort judge yesterday gave an important election victory to Gov. Steve Beshear, as if he needed one. Judge Thomas Wingate issued a restraining order prohibiting a secretive group, Restoring America, from airing TV commercials critical of Beshear.
Wingate said the group is breaking campaign laws because it won’t reveal the names of donors who contributed $1.3 million to run the ads. Instead, the group reported that all of its money came from one source, something called Restoring America Inc. That group won’t have to reveal its income source until January, when it won’t matter. No one at the Ohio-based group’s headquarters is answering the phone, and the candidates aren’t responding.
Local First Amendment attorney Jon Fleischaker, quoted in the Herald-Leader, believes the ruling will be overturned on free speech grounds. He said it’s the first time a judge has stopped a political campaign in Kentucky.
But clearly the ads will stop, a blow to TV stations and perhaps to Williams’ under-funded campaign as we hit the home stretch. There’s no signs that Beshear’s 30-point lead in the polls is dwindling.
Meanwhile, I caught the Jack Conway – Todd P’pool debate last night on KET, and question the Republican strategy. This is a statewide race and should be focused on Kentucky issues, yet P’pool builds his case for election around tying Conway to President Obama and his policies, especially the health care debate. Conway hasn’t joined a lawsuit with several other states opposing Obama’s health care initiative.
They also sparred over for-profit college, with Conway accusing P’pool of accepting money from for-profit college organizations, and intimating that because of that, he was putting the attorney general’s office up for sale.
At least the debate allowed the candidates to go after each other, unlike the stiff one conducted by the gubernatorial candidates. The best one of the season, potentially, is next week, when Jerry Abramson and Richie Farmer square off.