Checking the facts behind claims in 6th state House District as race gets dirty ahead of election

10/27/2014 04:48 PM

A flood of negative calls, ads, and mailers are making an appearance in the 6th state House District as state Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, is attacked for his votes and a workplace lawsuit and Republican Keith Travis is hit on his tenure in a state position.

A mailer from Washington D.C.-based group Republican State Leadership Committee has been sent out in the district that says “Thanks to Will Coursey, we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel.”

The mailer, which features Coursey’s face in oil from a tipped over barrel, has faint citations of a story from March 12, 2014 which was the date a revenue bill which including a floor on the gas tax was debated. The House bill was designed to add revenue to the general fund through multiple tactics, including the gas tax floor.

From the Pure Politics article on the bill:

That bill would include adding ….$60.8 million to the state’s road fund by setting a new floor for the gas tax that would reset it to last year’s level. That’s 1.5 cents above the current gas tax rate, which fell as the wholesale price of gasoline has tailed off.

The ad also references a vote taken on March 13, 2014 of legislation that passed 53-46, which was one of the first versions of the state budget which passed the Democratic-controlled House.

Another citation shows a Courier-Journal story from Nov. 2013 about sexual harassment cases , where Coursey’s workplace retaliation suit filed by an LRC staffer is brought up.

The mail piece was provided to Pure Politics by Travis as part of a large amount of ads against each candidate. Travis said he wanted to be fair in supplying the mailers he had as Travis said there are some mailers against Coursey he does not necessarily agree with all the attacks and there are some he would rather have not seen sent out.

Coursey’s campaign sent out a mailer early on about some of the things being said about him in calls and advertisements, calling them “Hogwash!”

The mail piece, which states it is paid for by Will Coursey for state Representative, says there were calls being made by national Republican groups on behalf of Travis and added that the ads falsely attacked Coursey, showing that Travis wanted to wage “one of the dirtiest, most personal smear campaigns we’ve ever seen.”

The mailer then warns voters to know that any calls, ads, or pieces of mail they get from Travis or allies are filled with lies. The “Hogwash” mailer can be seen below:

The Coursey campaign has also put out an ad with an old schools saloon theme where they say Travis is a jobs killer after working for corporations over the years.

The ad goes on to say Travis has gained “notches” on his “corporate gun” through B.F. Goodrich, Murray-Calloway Hospital and Mattel. According to his campaign website , Travis did work for the companies in question.

“980 jobs gone to Mexico, now he’s gunning for state Rep. Watch your back, Keith Travis…he’s a jobs killer,” the ad concludes.

In a phone interview with Pure Politics, Travis explained that when he worked for B.F. Goodrich in 1988, the Federal Trade Commission ruled the company was a monopoly after the company acquired another company in the same business.

Travis said the company had to either divest or shut down, so he was looking to save the 179 jobs at stake — one of which was his. Those jobs went to Westlake, which purchased the Goodrich operations in the area.

As for Mattel, Travis said he began his time at the company in 2000 and had worked for the company for only six months before losing his job there just like the rest of the workers who were laid off when the company announced they would be moving their operations to Mexico.

And most recently, the Murray-Calloway Hospital, where Travis is currently employed, announced it would be laying off workers. Travis told Pure Politics he knew of the layoffs but had no role in them and there was not much he could do to change that decision, he just happened to be an employee at the hospital.

A Democratic group involved in the race sending out mailers against Travis is Kentucky Family Values , a group getting involved in many of the state’s most contentious House races.

KFV has multiple mailers circulating in the district, most of which go after Travis on his tenure as chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education. On the front of one mailer from the group, a piggy bank is seen being smashed with the text “Breaking the Bank: Keith Travis and Construction Costs.”

The reverse side of the mail piece cites a Courier-Journal story from October 4, 2007 which reports on the increased cost of construction for a Harlan County school.

The $27 million number used in the mailer refers to the price increase to $50 million for construction from the original $23 million estimate from the county.

Because of the increase in the cost for the Harlan Co. school, Travis told the paper the board was not aware if other projects at the time, totaling $700 million, would also be over original budget estimates as the problems with the school in question were brought to the board by a concerned citizen rather than the county.

Another mailer from Kentucky Family Values goes after Travis for a different a cost to the taxpayers incurred while he was at the helm of the Kentucky Board of Education.

The mailer cites a July 28, 2007 Courier-Journal story that goes into detail about the criticism the board received after the search for and selection of a candidate for the position of Kentucky education commissioner that did not end well.

In 2007, the Kentucky Board of Education hired an Iowa search firm to produce a list of candidates for the job before naming Barbra Erwin as the new commissioner only for her to have to resign one day before beginning her role due to reports of falsehoods in her resume.

Travis told the papers at the time the reports of problems with Erwin’s resume caught the board by surprise because they expected the firm to alert them of any problems with possible candidates.

In the end, Travis told Erwin about the board’s concerns with her past and her ability to do the job after the reports. Hours later, Erwin submitted her letter of resignation.

The Iowa firm was paid “more than $50,000 for a failed search,” the 2007 Courier-Journal story said.

The mailer on the topic can be viewed below:

Pure Politics will have more on the ads in this race and others in part three of a series examining some of the claims being made in some of the most competitive House races. Here are part one and part two .

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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