Saturday, January 19, 2002

Ky. Senate leader declines to censure

Democrat likened GOP to Enron

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT, Ky. — The president of the Kentucky Senate declined Friday to censure a Democratic senator who had lumped Republicans with scandal-ridden Enron Corp. during a Senate speech.

        President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said he considered the comments by Sen. Ernesto Scorsone offensive and a violation of Senate decorum but not serious enough to warrant censure.

        “Although the speech and decorum, in the chair's opinion, were breached, it does not rise to the level that should require censure, and I rule that no censure shall be issued,” Mr. Williams said.

        Mr. Scorsone, a Democrat from Lexington, drew Mr. Williams' wrath Thursday when a procedural debate turned fiercely partisan on a Democratic bill to regulate telemarketers.

        Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly delivered a speech on bipartisanship, and Mr. Scorsone likened it to Enron officials conducting an ethics workshop.

        “And it strikes me ironic,” Mr. Scorsone said. “Ironic that members of the Republican Party would attempt to lecture us on respect of each other, and lecture us on order and bipartisanship. I mean a sharper irony would have been if officials from Enron or Arthur Andersen would have been here giving a workshop on ethics.”

        Mr. Williams interrupted, said Mr. Scorsone had violated Senate rules, declared the Democrat out of order, and told him to be silent and take his seat.

        After Mr. Williams' ruling Friday, he and Mr. Scorsone put different spins on the outcome of their dispute. Mr. Scorsone said “the Republicans backed down.”

        Mr. Williams said Mr. Scorsone was wrong to claim victory. “For him to depict that as a proud day ... is beyond my comprehension,” Mr. Williams said.


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