Friday, September 12, 2008

Stumbo for speaker? Not in our state!

We greet the news that Greg Stumbo will challenge Jody Richards for the title of speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives with no great surprise. After all, it's right in character with the power-hungry and arrogant Democrat from Prestonsburg. Look at the hostile takeover bid he engineered after losing last year's bid for lieutenant governor to get his House seat back.

What we find more surprising is that anyone would seriously consider putting such a man in a position of leadership in this state.

Greg Stumbo is morally unfit to hold any position of power or leadership in this state. Most of his travails are well-known. Two decades ago, he cheated on his first wife with a woman named Travis Fritsch, who became pregnant by Stumbo and gave birth to his son. Several years later,when Fritsch sued Stumbo for back child support, he refused to pay and instead countersued her for defamation.

We're not as troubled by Stumbo's adultery as we are the fact that he is a deadbeat dad who retaliated against a legitimate claim for past-due child support with a defamation suit, instead of simply challenging Fritsch's claim for more money in a response to her suit. His conduct here demonstrates his contempt for the law as well as a distain for his own familial responsibilities.

Then there is Stumbo's partisan abuse of power while he served as attorney general. During his term in the General Assembly, Stumbo frequently wrote letters on House stationery, recommending fellow Democrats for state merit system jobs. The intent was obvious: Stumbo was trading on his political power to secure jobs for fellow travelers. Yet when he became attorney general, Stumbo brought down an incumbent Republican governor by trumping up a patronage "scandal." If Stumbo had been serious bout prosecuting patronage, he would have prosecuted himself for trying to use his political influence to meddle in merit system hiring decisions.

And don't forget the infamous "disappearing DUI" charge, where a judge bought Stumbo's lame excuse that he wasn't driving a car that was involved in a fender-bender. This incident gives light to a little-discussed topic, that being Stumbo's well-known but rarely-mentioned fondness for alcoholic libations. The enjoyment of adult beverages is legal for persons above a certain age in Kentucky, which Stumbo certainly is, but the question is just how often and with what frequency does Stumbo enjoy this privilege of adulthood.

Finally, was his relationship with Kent Downey and his involvement in "Strippergate" ever fully vetted?

Quite frankly, Stumbo is not leadership material. He is not someone that Kentucky parents can point to with pride and want their children to emulate. For all our differences with Gov. Steve Beshear, he's a decent role model. So is Jody Richards. Stumbo certainly isn't.

We find it even more hard to swallow that Stumbo may have support from Republicans for the speaker's post. Don't these folks remember what Stumbo did to the state's first Republican governor in three decades? If not for Stumbo, Ernie Fletcher would be a quarter of the way into his second term today, and possibly even on John McCain's ticket as the vice president nominee, instead of being out of politics and back in the private sector.

No right-thinking Republican should even consider backing Stumbo. Any Republicans who do should be taken out of circulation at the next possible primary.

People who value good character in their leaders should oppose any move to allow Greg Stumbo to become speaker of the house. It's time for Kentuckians to come together to demand more from their leaders. If you are represented by a Democrat, contact your representative and express your disgust at the thoughts of Stumbo being a leader. Point out his moral failings and note that you expect more from your leaders. If you are represented by a Republican, remind him or her of what Stumbo did to your party's governor and ask if that is the type of person a Republican can trust to act in a bipartisan manner.

Stumbo as speaker? Not in our state! It's time for people of good character to mobilize against this possible travesty.

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