- Associated Press - Friday, May 2, 2014
Republicans closing voter registration gap in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democrats maintain a comfortable lead in registered voters in Kentucky, but Republicans are closing the gap.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Thursday that Republicans registered an additional 44,852 voters since the 2012 general election while Democrats added an extra 6,811 voters.

Democrats still outnumber Republicans in Kentucky by more than 476,000 voters. But since November 2008 - when Democratic President Barack Obama was first elected - the Republican Party of Kentucky has added 142,312 voters while the Kentucky Democratic Party has added 10,571.

Registered Democrats now make up 53 percent of all voters, down from 57 percent in 2008. Republicans account for 38 percent of all voters, up from 36 percent in 2008.

“Kentucky is about to do what we’ve been saying it’s going to do: it’s officially going to become a red state,” said Steve Robertson, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party. He said many people are frustrated with the president’s policies. “I think these numbers certainly support the theory.”

Kentucky is one of the most divided states, politically, in the country. Democrats control the House of Representatives and four of the five constitutional offices, including the governor and attorney general. Republicans control the state Senate, five of the six congressional seats and both U.S. Senate seats. And the state has voted for the Republican candidate in the last four presidential elections.

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Kentucky guardsman sues over tattoo rules

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky National Guard soldier with aspirations of joining a U.S. Army special operations unit wants a federal judge to overturn the military’s new regulations concerning soldiers with tattoos.

Staff Sgt. Adam C. Thorogood of Nashville, Tennessee, said the tattoos covering his left arm from the elbow to the wrist aren’t harmful, but the Army is using the body art against him and stopping him from fulfilling a dream of joining “The Nightstalkers,” the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Thorogood’s attorneys said the new rules are preventing their client from seeking appointment as a warrant officer.

Thorogood, 28, sued Thursday in U.S. District Court in Paducah, Kentucky, seeking to have the new rules declared unconstitutional. He is seeking $100 million in damages.

The regulations went into effect in March cover a variety of appearance-related issues including hair styles, fingernails, glasses and jewelry. The rules ban tattoos below the knee or elbow. Soldiers who already have the ink are grandfathered in. Under the new regulations, any soldier with tattoos is barred from seeking a promotion to warrant officer or commissioning as an officer.

“You’ve got a soldier who is about as gung ho as you get … then you’ve got this regulation you read about on Facebook and you don’t have a career,” said Robin May, a Kentucky-based attorney who represents Thorogood. “That would be a blow.”

May said the new regulations violate a constitutional ban on laws that retroactively change the legal consequences or status of actions that were committed before the enactment of the law. The ban also infringes upon Thorogood’s free speech rights, May said.

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Internet giants eye cheerleader’s defamation suit

CINCINNATI (AP) - An appeals court heard arguments Thursday over whether a gossip website should have been immune from a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader, a case that Internet giants such as Google and Facebook are watching closely.

Nik Richie, owner of The Dirty, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, should have been granted immunity in the case under a 1996 federal law that provides broad immunity to websites, his attorney argued to a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

Former Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones, also a former high school teacher in northern Kentucky, sued Richie in December 2012 over posts about her and her sexual history. Jones, 29, said the posts were untrue and caused mental anguish and embarrassment.

In July, after federal Judge William Bertelsman rejected arguments that Richie should be granted immunity, jurors found that the posts about Jones were substantially false and that Richie had acted with malice or reckless disregard by publishing them. They awarded Jones $338,000.

The posts about Jones were unrelated to a criminal case that emerged against her in March 2012 in which she was accused of having sex with a teenage former student. Jones later pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and custodial interference as part of a plea deal that allowed her to avoid jail time but prohibited her from teaching again.

Jones and the student, then 17, say they’re engaged to be married.

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Jill Biden to give commencement speech in Ky.

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - The wife of Vice President Joe Biden will be back in Kentucky later this month.

A statement from the White House says Dr. Jill Biden will give the commencement speech at Owensboro Community and Technical College on May 13.

It will be her second appearance in western Kentucky in less than a month. She accompanied first lady Michelle Obama on April 23 for a visit to Fort Campbell, where they announced a Veterans Employment Center and spoke to soldiers.

Owensboro Community and Technical College has about 4,500 students from Daviess, Ohio, Hancock and McLean counties.

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