Stumbo's name surfaces during drug probe (Or, Mitch McConnell's big mistake)
The Big Sandy News, a regional paper in eastern Kentucky, is reporting that a defendant in a drug trafficking case has linked Attorney General Greg Stumbo to possible campaign improprieties.
Pamela Justice, a former associate of Stumbo's, is reported to have given federal authorities 'information relating to campaign issues involving Attorney General Greg Stumbo and former Floyd (County) Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson, court records show," according to the newspaper.
Unfortunately, the newspaper's Web site is subscription-only, and they only have the headline and one paragraph available, so we can't further check into this explosive allegation at this point, but it's been no secret in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky that Stumbo was in danger of being prosecuted for vote fraud issues along with State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, the late Ross Harris and others. Many in the region, along with a host of Stumbo's political foes across the state, are wondering how he escaped the long arm of federal prosecutors in that matter. During the height of the investigation, it was widely thought that the prosecutors were sniffing around to see what they could geton Stumbo.
(We're also hearing that Sen. Turner's involvement in this scandal may draw him an intra-party challenger next year, but that's a post for another day).
The timing of this news, the weekend before Kentucky's gubernatorial election that will likely be decided because of Greg Stumbo, is certainly not lost on us.
We have always contended that Mitch McConnell, the titular head of the state's Republican Party and one of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's political mentors, could have brought Stumbo's personnel investigation to a screeching halt by calling Stumbo and telling him that if he did not cease the investgation, his next call would be to the United States Attorney (at the time, it was Gregory Van Tatenhove) to instruct him to proceed with a full-scale investigation of Stumbo's involvement with Harris, Turner, et. al. Under that type of pressure, harboring the gubernatorial aspirations that he did, Stumbo would have had no choice but to close down the hiring probe lest he become the subject of a very public vote buying probe himself. Stumbo is nothing if not politically savvy, although he does let his "little head" and his fondness for the brew override his good judgment at times.
Now it appears that after the damage to Fletcher has been done, the investigation of Stumbo will be kick-started by, of all things, a cocaine trafficking probe. Although this may serve to be the final straw in getting Stumbo out of public life, which would be a good thing, it comes too late to have any effect on this year's gubernatorial election. Using this investigation as leverage against the attorney general two years ago could have had a tremendous effect on what will happen next week if only McConnell had handled the situation properly.
If we'd been in McConnell's shoes, we'd have made this phone call to Stumbo within a couple of days of Doug Doerting making his complaint, but certainly before the governor got back from his overseas trip during that time.
We consider this to be a failing of McConnell and will have a hard tiime forgiving him for his lack of support for Gov. Fletcher, the man whom he helped elect. While we will celebrate any calamity, political or otherwise as long as it's non-injurious, that befalls Greg Stumbo, it's a shame that this didn't happen when it could have made a difference.