Hampton, Overly debate hot button issues in second lt. governor debate

09/28/2015 10:40 PM

LOUISVILLE — In their second joint appearance of the general election candidates for lt. governor met for a televised debate where recent hot button topics took center stage.

Sannie Overly, the Democratic running mate of Jack Conway, and Jenean Hampton, the Republican running mate of Matt Bevin, met before a live studio audience in Louisville for the half-hour long discussion held at WAVE-3 TV with support from nine women’s groups.

Overly and Hampton tackled recent charged topics including the sexual harassment lawsuit which resulted in a $400,000 settlement between the Legislative Research Commission and three current and former staffers.

On the topic, Overly, who serves as Majority Caucus Chair in the state House where the harassment took place, said she “strongly condemn the actions that were complained of in that complaint.”

Bevin has sought to make an issue of Overly’s request to have her deposition in the case sealed.

In April, T. Clay, the attorney for the former and current legislative staffers told several newspapers that he planned to question Overly on allegations that former Democratic Rep. John Arnold, the subject of the staffer’s lawsuit, may have inappropriately touched her. At the time, Clay declined to discuss the nature of his questions to Overly.

On Monday, Overly wanted to make sure that the public was aware no deposition had been taken.

“I never sought to not have my deposition taken — I simply sought to have it sealed, and in fact it was never taken,” she said.

Overly said that she and Conway would work to address the “culture in Frankfort,” which was the underlying heart of the sexual harassment lawsuit, she said. To address the culture, Overly said she and Conway would make sure everyone’s voice is heard, and has a seat at the table.

Hampton rebuffed Overly’s deposition claims, saying she is “Not sure why anyone insist a deposition be sealed.”

The topic turned to Hampton’s statements on early childhood education during the debate, as Hampton was asked about her comments she made calling federal early childhood education program Head Start a way “to get the kids at an even earlier age and just start the indoctrination sooner.”

The program provides 3 to 5 year old children from low income families with health and developmental screenings, meals and education services.

On Monday, a visibly perspiring Hampton, told the panel at WAVE 3, “…all we ask is that Head Start funds be evaluated objectively so we can see if they are being used properly, and effectively and efficiently,”

“And, there’s no point spending those funds if we’re not seeing results,” Hampton said, pointing to math and reading proficiency scores in Kentucky.

Conway and Overly have been running much of their race for the governorship on the issue of early childhood education. Conway has released a plan which calls on increasing the eligibility for public preschool to 138 percent of the poverty level for 3-year-olds. And within his first term he says he will “set a goal” to have preschool eligibility for 3- and 4-year-olds at 200 percent of the poverty level.

During the debate, Overly said the issue on education provides “clear contrast,” between the campaigns.

“What we’ve heard from the Bevin – Hampton ticket is that from Mr. Bevin quote: ‘Head Start serves no purpose’ we’ve heard that it is indoctrination,” Overly said. “Teachers, parents alike can tell you access to early childhood learning programs travel with a student throughout their life and are beneficial.”

The debate also touched on hot-button topic of Planned Parenthood funding.

As Pure Politics has previously reported, Planned Parenthood has been the subject of a series of undercover videos published by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, representatives of which posed as medical researchers interested in obtaining fetal organs and tissue.

The Center for Medical Progress claims the videos prove Planned Parenthood officials sell fetal parts for profit, which is against federal law, but Planned Parenthood says the recordings have been edited to misconstrue remarks from its officials and deceive the public.

While no public funding for abortions is allowed in Kentucky, Bevin has called on Federal Title X dollars to be halted from making their way to Planned Parenthood in the state — which would amount to about $331,300 in federal Title X family planning funds, according to figures provided by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The cabinet does not contract with Planned Parenthood, but local health departments can either provide Title X family planning services directly or subcontract with Planned Parenthood, rural health clinics or federally qualified health centers, cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said in an email to Pure Politics in August.

On Monday, Overly was asked about the issue, and said that she and Conway are “committed” that no public dollars should be provided to cover the cost of abortions.

Hampton went a step further, following in Bevin’s footsteps in calling for the end of funding of Planned Parenthood in Kentucky, and perhaps ending all entitlements to private businesses.

“There is no reason that public funds should be used for a private corporation,” Hampton said. “The services that Planned Parenthood provides are available at other clinics.”

Monday’s debate was the second public lt. governors debate which barred Independent candidate Drew Curtis’ wife and running mate, Heather from attending.


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