- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015
Former Republican rivals publicly endorse Bevin for governor

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor met for the first time publicly with two of his rivals for the GOP nomination on Friday as he sought to rally his scattered conservative base following the closest statewide election in state history.

Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner and former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott urged Republicans across the state to unite behind Matt Bevin while speaking to a few dozen people at the Hardin County GOP headquarters on Friday. James Comer, who finished second to Bevin by just 83 votes in May’s Republican primary, did not attend because he was in Washington D.C. But he had a surrogate read a letter of support.

Just five months ago, in a debate broadcast live on Kentucky Sports Radio, Bevin said Heiner was “not who he pretends to be” and Heiner dismissed Bevin as someone who “will say anything to get elected.” The two men were speaking just days away from the Republican primary. But Friday, Heiner said he was “completely behind” Bevin for governor.

“He’s a business person, he’s an entrepreneur, he’s right on the policies, and you know the most important part: He has the personal strength to get the hard work done,” Heiner said.

Heiner had slightly more than 27 percent of the vote in the May primary, just shy of 58,000 votes. He has stayed out of the public light since his defeat, where he spent more than $4 million of his own money in his first attempt for statewide office. In an interview, Heiner said he has been working quietly behind the scenes urging his supporters to get behind Bevin’s campaign against Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

“Obviously the first couple of weeks, resurfacing is always kind of interesting after a campaign,” Heiner said, a nod to the personal nature of the primary’s negative campaigning because the candidates agreed on nearly all major policy issues. “Kentucky’s in a very dangerous spot right now. We’re at the bottom of the country from a financial credit rating standpoint, lots of difficulties and great potential. I believe there is no comparison between Matt and Jack on the future of Kentucky, so I’m working for him.”

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2 judges in heated fight for Kentucky Supreme Court seat

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The ad that repeated on eastern Kentucky radio stations began with an ominous declaration. Janet Stumbo, an appeals court judge running for the state Supreme Court, “sided with criminals nearly 60 percent of the time,” her opponent warned before describing the details of grisly murders.

With that, what had been a quiet race between two longtime eastern Kentucky judges for the only open seat on the state’s highest court quickly descended into mudslinging and prompted an angry confrontation at a small-town parade.

The Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee, a nonpartisan council of citizens that pushes for decorum in judicial elections, criticized both candidates last week for making misleading claims in their campaign advertising. It asked Stumbo’s competitor, Letcher County Circuit Judge Sam Wright, to cease airing his “sides with criminals” radio ad, which describes crime scenes including a pregnant woman found dead with scissors protruding from her neck.

The committee found the allegations false and an attempt to “purposefully mislead the electorate” on what judges are tasked to do, which is “to base decisions on the law and to not take sides.”

Wright, on the bench for 22 years, describes himself as a “law and order judge who respects victims’ rights, a gun owner and a Christian.” He defended his use of the ad in that it “shows her judicial philosophy.”

Stumbo, a Floyd County native who spent 11 years on the Supreme Court before losing her seat in an election a decade ago, says she is willing to make unpopular decisions if she believes the law demands it. In each case, she said, she believed an error at the trial court level had been significant enough to prevent the defendant from getting a fair trial.

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Former high-profile lawyer faces arrest for skipping court

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A former attorney who won a $200 million settlement for diet drug clients is facing arrest for failing to appear at a Kentucky court hearing.

A warrant signed by Boone County Circuit Judge James Schrand signed on Thursday says Stan Chesley is charged with contempt of court. Chesley, a former high-profile class-action attorney, failed to appear for a hearing over his refusal to pay back funds he improperly took in the 2001 fen-phen settlement.

An attorney for Chesley did not return a message seeking comment Friday. Schrand set Chesley’s bond at nearly $650,000.

Chesley took more than $20 million in attorney’s fees from the settlement, which exceeded the amount established by his client contracts and his contracts with co-counsel. He and three other attorneys in the case were ordered to pay $42 million back to hundreds of clients.

Chesley, once dubbed the “Master of Disaster” for his prowess in winning large class-action cases, was disbarred by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2013.

The other attorneys, William Gallion, Shirley Cunningham Jr. and Melbourne Mills, have each been disbarred from practicing law. Gallion and Cunningham are serving federal prison sentences after being convicted of bilking their clients out of millions from the settlement. Mills was acquitted.

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Police: Kentucky fugitive dies in shootout after manhunt

BURKESVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A fugitive accused of shooting a Tennessee police officer and firing at a Kentucky trooper was killed in a shootout with authorities early Friday, ending a nearly weeklong manhunt and relieving a community on the eve of Halloween.

Floyd Ray Cook, 62, was killed in south-central Kentucky after being confronted by state troopers and a federal marshal searching an embankment, Kentucky State Police spokesman Billy Gregory told The Associated Press.

Cook was armed with a handgun and exchanged gunfire with the officers south of Burkesville, Gregory said. No officers were injured.

The manhunt began after Cook was accused of shooting and wounding an Algood, Tennessee, police officer during a traffic stop last Saturday afternoon. He fled in a truck.

Just over an hour later, a Kentucky State Police trooper recognized Cook’s vehicle and tried to stop him in rural Cumberland County, just beyond the Tennessee state line, authorities said. Cook tried to speed away, but wrecked and jumped from the truck. He allegedly opened fire on the officer, missed and ran into the woods.

A swath of the border between Kentucky and Tennessee had been gripped with fear.

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