Kentucky Governor Linked to Union Indictments

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Paul Patton’s two top aides and two Teamsters bosses were indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws in Patton’s 1995 election. The special grand jury indictments were unsealed Sep. 24 by a Ky. Supreme Court order. The named were: Skipper Martin, Patton’s chief of staff and 1995 campaign manager; Danny Ross, Patton’s labor liaison who ran a pro-Patton campaign for the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO between stints on Patton’s state payroll; Lon Fields, president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, where Ross ran the campaign; and Robert Winstead, secretary-treasurer of Local 89 and recording secretary of the Teamsters’ state council, through which the national union paid for Ross’ campaign work. The four’s lawyers denied their clients broke the law.

Patton has denied wrongdoing, and in an act of defiance, he said that Martin and Ross would keep their state jobs, saying they were “vital to the continued functioning of this administration.” Patton ordered the probe in Mar. 1996 in response to Courier-Journal articles on irregularities in Democrats’ get-out-the-vote efforts and Republican Gov. candidate Larry Forgy’s assertion that Democrats “bought votes all over Kentucky.” [Courier-Journal 9/25-26/98]