Friday, March 14, 2003

Bates gets 2nd challenge to eligibility

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Steve Nunn's running mate Thursday asked to join a lawsuit that challenges Hunter Bates' eligibility to be on Ernie Fletcher's slate in the Republican primary for governor.

Bob Heleringer filed a motion in Oldham County Circuit Court contending that Bates doesn't meet the state constitution's residency requirements to run for lieutenant governor. A lawsuit filed two days earlier by a college student claims Bates has not been a Kentucky resident for at least six years preceding the election and is therefore ineligible. Heleringer's motion seeks to intervene in the suit.

Bates' attorney, James Milliman, said Thursday he will prove "beyond any shadow of a doubt" that Bates meets the requirements to run with Flether, a congressman from Lexington.

Bates, a native of Whitley County, moved to Goshen in Oldham County last year when he managed U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign. Bates spent five years as an aide to McConnell in Washington and worked from 1995 to early 1997 for a Washington law firm.

Heleringer's motion and the suit filed by Curtis Shain, a University of Louisville student, ask the court to prohibit Bates' name from appearing on the May 20 primary election ballot.

A hearing in the case is scheduled Wednesday in La Grange before Judge Paul Rosenblum.

Candidates for Kentucky governor are required to run as a slate with a lieutenant governor candidate.

Milliman said Bates welcomed Heleringer's participation in the case, and accused Nunn and Rebecca Jackson, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, of involvement in fanning questions about Bates' eligibility.

"Mr. Bates appreciates that the Nunn campaign, unlike the Jackson campaign, has now finally decided to be upfront and open about their position and involvement in this matter," Milliman said. "At least the Nunn campaign has the virtue of candor rather than hiding behind bushes and lobbying grenades as the Jackson campaign has done."

Jackson countered that it was "ludicrous" for Bates' attorney to link her to the legal challenge. She said she never intended to challenge Bates' eligibility, but asked the Fletcher campaign to clear up the issue.

"We simply said, `Show us what you have, clear it up and let's talk about the issues,'" said Jackson.

Nunn campaign spokesman Larry Bisig said the Fletcher campaign was missing the point.

"This is not about Rebecca Jackson and it is not about Steve Nunn," Bisig said. "We're bogged down with whether there's an eligibility issue. This is about Rep. Fletcher's first decision as a potential governor."

Nunn, a state representative and son of Kentucky's last Republican governor, and Jackson, a former Jefferson County judge-executive, both have said they don't know Shain, the student who filed the suit.

Shain's attorney, Samuel Manly of Louisville, has requested a stack of documents from Bates, including tax returns, vehicle licensing information, passports and even the birth certificate of his young child, who was born in Virginia.

"This is how invasive this process has become by Hunter's political enemies," Milliman said.

Manly said he would keep personal information such as Bates' income confidential. He said he requested the documents to show where Bates listed his residence. Manly said the documents will show that Bates' residence was Alexandria, Va., for most of the past six years.

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