Kentucky Bosses, Politicos’ Indictments Dismissed

The campaign-finance indictments of Ky. Democratic Gov. Paul Patton’s two top aides and two Teamsters bosses were controversially dismissed Jun. 3 by Ky. Circuit Judge William Trude, Jr. The four are: Skipper Martin, Patton’s chief of staff and 1995 campaign manager; Danny Ross, Patton’s labor liaison who ran a pro-Patton campaign for the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO between stints on Patton’s state payroll; Lon Fields, ex-boss of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, where Ross ran the campaign; and Robert Winstead, secretary-treasurer of Local 89 and recording secretary of the Teamsters’ state council, through which the national union paid for Ross’ campaign work. A special grand jury indicted the four for allegedly violating campaign finance laws by secretly arranging the Teamsters’ employment of Ross for pro-Patton efforts in the 1995 election, in which Patton beat Republican Larry Forgy by 21,560 votes, 2.2 percent of the total. Patton is up for reelection this year.

Trude held that the campaign finance laws used for the indictments were so vague and broad that they invaded the First Amendment rights. Forgy, who is considering a run for the Ky. Supreme Court this fall, said “There’s no exoneration in dismissal on a technicality by an unknown East Kentucky judge.” On Jun. 11, Ky. Democratic Atty. Gen. Ben Chandler appealed Trude’s ruling. [Courier-Journal 6/5 & 12/99]