Kentucky Indictments Reinstated

The Kentucky Court of Appeals yesterday reinstated the indictment of Gov. Paul Patton’s (D) top aide and labor liaison and two prominent Teamsters on charges of circumventing campaign laws to get Patton elected in 1995. The 2-1 decision, which is likely to be appealed, was released almost exactly five years after Patton narrowly defeated Republican Larry Forgy – who then accused the Democrats of fraud, prompting the investigation that produced the indictment.

The indictment, by a special Franklin County grand jury in September 1998, alleged a conspiracy among:

  • Andrew “Skipper” Martin, who is Patton’s chief of staff and managed his 1995 campaign.
  • Danny Ross, Patton’s longtime liaison with organized labor, who worked on labor’s pro-Patton campaign in 1995.
  • Lon Fields, Sr., who in 1995 was president of Louisville-based IBT Local 89 and whom Patton later put on the Racing Commission.
  • Robert Winstead, who succeeded Fields as president of Local 89 and was president of the IBT’s unit that hired Ross for labor’s campaign.

The decision of the appeals court panel included some secret grand-jury testimony in laying out the basic allegation, that Ross continued to work for Martin while being paid by the Teamsters.

Prosecutors allege that the four arranged for Ross’ employment, constituting an illegally large and unreported campaign contribution of $20,000 by the Teamsters to the campaign of Patton and running mate Steve Henry. The maximum legal contribution at the time was $500.

Special Circuit Judge William Trude of Irvine ruled last year that the law’s definitions of “contribution” and “independent expenditure” were so vague that they were unconstitutional, and threw out the charges. [Courier-J. (Louisville) 11/10/00]