- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014
McConnell says wife won’t resign from board

GREENVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell said his wife will not resign from a board that has given $50 million to a campaign dedicated to closing coal-fired power plants.

WDRB-TV in Louisville reports that McConnell defended his wife during a campaign stop in Muhlenberg County in western Kentucky.

Yahoo News reported last week that Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife and the former labor secretary under President George W. Bush, joined the Bloomberg Philanthropies board in 2012. In 2011, the board committed to give the Sierra Club $50 million for its “Beyond Coal” program.

Monday, seven eastern Kentucky Democrats - including House Speaker Greg Stumbo - sent a letter to Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett demanding that the group denounce Chao’s board membership and call on her to resign.

“We call on you personally and on the Kentucky Coal Association directors to denounce the Bloomberg board’s disgraceful action and call on the McConnells to return the money they have pocketed from this and any other anti-Kentucky coal organizations,” the letter read.

But Wednesday, McConnell said attacks on his wife are “nothing new.”


Churchill Downs announcer leaving for New York

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Larry Collmus’ tenure as track announcer at Churchill Downs barely got past the starting gate.

Collmus, who took over in the spring as race caller at the home of the Kentucky Derby, on Wednesday accepted the job as track announcer for the New York Racing Association, starting in the spring of 2015. He will stay on at Churchill for the upcoming September and fall meets.

“I’m trading one dream job for another,” Collmus said.

Collmus, 47, will start calling races on the New York circuit in April, the final month of the Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet, the NYRA said in its announcement. He will announce the Belmont Park spring and fall meets and the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Collmus has three nearly decades of experience calling races, and his crisp cadence is familiar to horse racing fans nationwide.

Collmus will continue his role announcing Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races for NBC Sports, the NYRA said. He’ll also continue his winter role calling races at Gulfstream Park in Florida.


Mississippi man convicted of extortion in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Mississippi man has been convicted of extortion in a case involving threats against the University of Louisville Athletic Association’s reputation and a demand for $3.5 million.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky says 36-year-old Thomas E. Ray of Jackson, Mississippi, was convicted Wednesday after a 1 ½-day trial in U.S. District Court.

The prosecutor’s office said Ray used the alias “Melinda White” and sent an email from his home on April 23, 2013, shortly after Louisville won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. His email was sent to two U of L employees.

He faces up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a year of supervised release. He will be sentenced Nov. 3.

Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said Louisville participated in the investigation and is pleased with the verdict.


Prison company pays $260K in lawsuit settlement

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The largest private prison company in America paid $260,000 to a group of shift supervisors in Kentucky to settle claims that they were denied overtime, according to an agreement unsealed Wednesday.

Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tennessee, paid the money in November to end a lawsuit brought by 25 employees of the now-shuttered Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary’s, Kentucky. The former employees took $129,000 of the settlement. Plaintiff’s attorneys received $131,000.

The group claimed in a 2012 lawsuit that CCA denied them overtime after forcing them to work extra hours. CCA has denied the allegations.

Of the 25 people receiving payouts from the settlement, two got $10,300 checks, one got $10,800 and the rest amounts ranging from $1,200 to $9,100. As part of the settlement, CCA denied any wrongdoing.

The attorneys involved billed their clients amounts ranging from $100 up to $3,600 for a variety of meetings, phone calls, court filings and emails during the 18 months the litigation made its way through the federal court system.

The settlement was originally sealed, but the nonprofit Prison Legal News, a publication that primarily reports on criminal justice issues and prison and jail-related civil litigation, mainly in the United States, sought to have it unsealed. Prison Legal News Editor Paul Wright said CCA operates largely on public funds obtained through government contracts, making the settlement a legitimate concern of the public.

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