Sunday, September 19, 1999

Campbell County candidates trade barbs

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Democrats have slapped Campbell County Property Value Administrator candidate Kevin Gordon, an Alexandria Republican, and he has hit back.

        Mr. Gordon has been put on notice by the Kentucky Board of Accountancy to stop using the phrase “certified public accountant” in his campaign literature. Doing so is a violation of state law.

        Mr. Gordon holds an accounting degree, has worked as an accountant and has passed the CPA exam in Ohio. He has not taken the CPA exam in Kentucky, but the exams are identical.

        He stands by his campaign material that is he qualified as an accountant.

        David Kramer, a Kenton County Democratic Party official and Campbell County native, issued a press release last week questioning Mr. Gordon's credentials and campaign tactics.

        In November's election, Mr. Gordon is challenging Alexandria Democrat and incumbent PVA Mariann Guidugli Dunn, appointed to the office in June by Gov. Paul Patton.

        “Let's run a clean campaign of hitting the streets to see who gets their message to the voters,” Mr. Gordon said. “But if they don't want to do that, then I'm not going to just sit back and take it.

        “If anybody has ethical problems, it's the Democrats.”

        Mr. Gordon was referring to the resignation of former PVA Bill Kaiser, a Southgate Democrat sentenced last week to 90 days in jail for taking nearly $50,000 from his office. Mr. Kaiser has repaid the money.

        Ms. Dunn was appointed to the seat after Mr. Kaiser resigned.

        Mr. Gordon also said that the Democrats chose Ms. Dunn based on her family and political connections. The Guiduglis are an active and well-known political clan.

        And he questioned the involvement of Mr. Kramer, a Crestview Hills attorney in the same law firm with Democratic strategist Mark Guilfoyle, who has a reputation for playing hardball politics.

        Mr. Kramer said Mr. Gordon needs to “stick with the issue at hand.”

        “A nonpartisan state agency has told him he violated a law and he could land in jail if he doesn't stop saying he's a CPA,” Mr. Kramer said.

        “He needs to take that more seriously, and it's not dirty politics for us to say he needs to clean up his campaign tactics,” he said.

        Mr. Kramer said he got involved because he knows and respects the Dunns, adding Ms. Dunn is more qualified for the job.

        “If (Mr. Gordon) is trying to paint me as some kind of carpet-bagging political hack, he's wrong,” Mr. Kramer said. “I care a lot about what happens in Campbell County, and I want good people in office.”

        Michelle Snodgrass, a member of the county Democratic Executive Committee, said the process to choose Ms. Dunn as the party's candidate “was fair and open.”

Soft-money squeeze
        Republican Rep. Ken Lucas voted last week to pass a campaign finance reform bill in the U.S. House, and groups such as Northern Kentucky Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life are fuming. They say it will infringe on their free speech rights and hamper their ability to spend money on voter guides and issue ads in the weeks prior to elections.

        What the Shays-Meehan bill does is limit soft money, the unlimited donations that corporations, labor unions and some individuals give to political parties. The New York Times estimates that soft money will total $500 million to $750 million in the 2000 presidential and congressional elections.

        Mr. Lucas, a first-term Democrat from Richwood, said he grappled with voting for the bill.

        “I'm certainly worried about safe guarding the right to free speech,” Mr. Lucas said after making the vote. “That's why I supported an amendment to protect the right of grassroots organizations to produce voter guides.”

        That amendment, however, failed.

        But Mr. Lucas ran on a platform of trying to remove some of the money from the political system.

        Voting against Shays-Meehan would have been easy for Mr. Lucas, the only member of Kentucky's six-member House delegation to do so. Right to Life was eager to beat him up for it, but he said he felt he had to live up to a campaign promise.

        Carol Long Tobias, National Right to Life's political director, acknowledged that with the exception of Tuesday's vote, Mr. Lucas has supported the group's agenda and legislation.

        “But he let us down with his vote on Shays-Meehan,” she said. “We feel very much betrayed.”

        Of course, the bill will probably never become law. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Louisville Republican, is waiting over in the Senate to do what he has done to other campaign finance reform bills — kill it.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for The Kentucky Enquirer. His column appears Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 578-5581, or 502-875-7526 in Frankfort, or by e-mail at

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics for the Enquirer. He can be reached at 578-5581, or (502) 875-7526 in Frankfort.