Republican Senate President Raising Money to Stack Courts to Rubber Stamp Partisan Policies

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 3, 2022) – Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, after not getting his way with a current judge as he tried to push through partisan, unconstitutional laws, is raising money for the judge’s partisan opponent at a country club fundraiser to stack the courts and politicize the judicial branch.

Stivers is raising money for Joe Bilby, the general counsel for agriculture commissioner Ryan Frances Quarles, trying to oust Franklin Circuit chief judge Phillip Shepherd in the nonpartisan race, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Today, Stivers will host the fundraiser at the Frankfort Country Club.

“Robert Stivers didn’t get his way in court when he tried to ram through unconstitutional laws so he’s urging fellow Republicans to give $2,000 to elect a partisan judge who will rubber stamp his right-wing agenda,” said Chair Colmon Elridge of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “Robert Stivers has been erratic, unhinged and increasingly petty and shouldn’t have unchecked power to push through partisan, unconstitutional laws that only benefit his donors and extremists in his party. Stivers is clearly over his head, out of his depth and drunk on partisanship.”

“The people of Franklin County should be concerned that a partisan legislator from Clay County is trying to tell them who should sit on the bench in their court.”

Stivers, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer and Mitch McConnell’s political action committee have all contributed to Bilby.

“If elected, Joe Bilby is supposed to be an impartial judge, but is building a campaign on partisan politics funded by the most partisan politicians in the commonwealth,” Chair Elridge said. “This undermines the independence of the judicial branch and politicizes our courts.”

Bill Graham, Shepherd’s campaign chair who was a judge in Franklin Circuit Court for 24 years, told the Herald-Leader: “We should never forget that the circuit judges and all the judges are nonpartisan races. It seems to me to be a very bad approach to a campaign for judicial office to build it on a partisan basis. I think when you’re having the Senate President hand out these flyers for a (Bilby) campaign fundraiser – it’s not what the judiciary is about. The judiciary shouldn’t be beholden to another branch of government.”