Democratic Caucus Defections Lead To Recriminations
Tensions continued to simmer in Frankfort Wednesday as Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said his party could pursue legal action against two House members who have switched parties in the wake of the Republican wave at the ballot box last November.
With the House Democratic majority in jeopardy, Stumbo says state Reps. Denny Butler and Jim Gooch could face lawsuits claiming they defrauded Democratic donors by swapping parties. He also continued to float rumors that members have been offered financial rewards to abandon the caucus.
"If you were in the ethics session today, by the federal prosecutors own words, offering things of value in exchange for influence in legislative decisions borders... it gets pretty close to being something some people might look at that have badges on," the speaker said.
At a meeting Wednesday morning, Gov. Bevin said that the speaker's comments smack of desperation as his party clings to a narrow 50-46 lead in the chamber, adding the tough talk is "embarrassing" and "beneath" the speaker. Stumbo returned the charge later that afternoon, accusing Bevin of "trying to offer jobs, things of value" when he can't win at the polls - which, if true he says, could be ethically problematic.
Despite pledges by the Prestonsburg Democrat to forge a healthy working relationship with the incoming administration, for now, the brewing war of words appears likely to continue. A special election for the four open House seats will be held on March 8.