A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ethics Reporter: Changes sought in ethics code; ‘Big Pharma,’ meth problem in spotlight

As part of its annual package of recommendations for changes to Kentucky’s Code of Legislative Ethics, the Legislative Ethics Commission is recommending prohibiting campaign contributions from employers of lobbyists and political action committees to legislative candidates and legislators during the annual regular sessions of the General Assembly.


The proposed change is an expansion of current ethics law, which prohibits lobbyists from contributing to legislative campaigns. The expanded ban would affect associations, businesses, and other groups with legislative interests, while those interests are subject to legislative action.

The in-session ban on contributions would prohibit the 651 registered employers of lobbyists and 146 state-registered PACs from contributing to legislative campaigns while bills are being considered and voted on in the annual legislative sessions. All the employers have legislative interests, and about 90 of the PACs are directly connected to employers of lobbyists.

According to the most recent report from the Registry of Election Finance, PACs with significant cash balances (and their lobbying affiliates) include: Better Schools Kentucky PAC (Jefferson County Teachers Association); Indiana/Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters PAC; Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities PAC; Kentucky Educators (Ky. Education Association); Kentucky Hospitals’ Circle of Friends (Ky. Hospital Association); Kentucky Realtors PAC (Ky. Association of Realtors); Kentucky State UAW PAC (Region 8, UAW); LG&E-KU Political Awareness & Civic Education (LG&E and KU Energy); and Speak Up for Rural Electrification (Ky. Association of Electric Cooperatives).

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In its latest issue, a national magazine featuring investigative reporting included a story on the methamphetamine problem in Kentucky, and the lobbying efforts on bills in recent legislative sessions, relating to methamphetamine production. The story in Mother Jones magazine, titled “Merchants of Meth: How Big Pharma Keeps the Cooks in Business,” can be found here. The story is accompanied by a photo essay: Chasing Meth in Laurel County, Kentucky, which is described as an “intimate look at methamphetamine addicts and the cops trying to nab them.”

Ethics Reporter is a publication of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. It is reprinted with permission.

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