Thursday, December 11, 2003

3 N.Ky. companies helped GOP group batter Chandler

Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley

Republican Ernie Fletcher used big bucks from the local business community to help him become Kentucky's first GOP governor in 32 years.

Fletcher, a former Lexington congressman sworn into office Tuesday, spent a record $5.6 million in the general election. His opponent, Democrat Ben Chandler, spent $3.8 million.

But Fletcher also received a $1.8 million boost from the Washington-based Republican Governors Association, which paid for lots of Chandler-bashing commercials. Many of the ads blatantly distorted Chandler's record as the state's two-term attorney general.

The governors association doesn't fall under the same campaign finance laws as candidates. That allows corporations, banned from making direct contributions to candidates, to give unlimited cash to such groups.

A report the association recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service says three national corporations with major Northern Kentucky operations contributed over the lass few months.

Delta Air Lines, which has its second-largest hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, gave $41,000.

Financial services giant Citigroup, which operates a call center in Boone County, contributed $210,350, including a $110,000 contribution on Oct. 13.

And Fidelity Investments, the Boston-based money management giant with a regional headquarters in Covington, gave $55,000.

MALL MONEY: Crescent Springs City Council is expected tonight to take the first formal step toward issuing $90 million in bonds for reconstruction of Crestview Hills mall into an upscale retail outdoor "lifestyle center" similar to Rookwood Commons in Norwood.

The same developer who did Rookwood - Jeff Anderson - has proposed a complete makeover for the mall that will include a new $25 million Dillard's department store, up to 60 smaller stores, a book store and some trendy restaurants and cafes.

The deal is far from done, and even when it is, the developer - not the city - will be responsible for repaying the bonds. If all goes according to plan, the new center will open in phases and be ready for the Christmas season in 2005.

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: Public employees were given a day off for Fletcher's inauguration, leaving some angry Northern Kentucky residents shut out of some county courthouse offices. But the county clerks in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties - who all happen to be Democrats - kept their offices open for business.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "It's a whole new regime for Kentucky" - Senate President Pro Tem Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, on Tuesday's inauguration of Fletcher.


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