February 23, 2024 12:00pm

Biden probe is hurting Comer's political future. Changing Constitution to give public money to private schools will be rejected.

Poll members also say they approve of Lexington's "source of income" anti-discrimination law and think legislators should butt out.

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Lexington, KY Correspondent
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Most Lexington Power Poll members think Kentucky Rep. James Comer’s discredited impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden will hurt Comer’s political future in Kentucky.

Nearly twice as many poll members support Lexington’s new law banning "source of income" housing discrimination as oppose it. And 80 percent think the General Assembly shouldn’t try to outlaw "source of income" discrimination bans in Lexington and Louisville, as it appears poised to do.

Finally: Nearly three-fourths of poll members predict Kentucky voters will reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow public money to be spent on private school education.

Now for the details:

For more than a year, Comer, the chair of the U.S. House Oversight and Investigations Committee, has been leading an investigation into discredited allegations of corruption by Biden related to his son Hunter Biden, who faces tax and firearms charges. Without any real evidence, the House voted along party lines to turn the investigation into a formal impeachment inquiry.

Comer has made a lot of allegations in dozens of appearances on Fox New Channel and other right-wing media, but time after time his “evidence” has fallen apart. In December, Lexington Power Poll members said, by a margin of 82 percent to 13 percent, that the impeachment inquiry was unwarranted.

Comer’s inquiry got its biggest blow last week, when an FBI source with extensive ties to Russian intelligence who had made the most hyped allegations against Biden was indicted for lying about it all.

“The cast of characters Republicans have sought out to substantiate President Biden’s purported corruption over the years has come to include half a dozen convicted and accused criminals, as well as multiple people the U.S. government has linked to Russia, corruption and subverting American democracy,” The Washington Post reported this week.

Despite all of this, Comer has vowed to continue the probe, which Democrats say is nothing more than an effort to sully Biden’s reputation at a time when former President Donald Trump, the leading contender for this year's Republican presidential nomination, is facing multiple criminal trials.

But will this help or hurt Comer’s future in Kentucky politics? After all, Kentucky voters have twice voted overwhelmingly for Trump, who now faces 91 felony counts related to fraud, trying to overturn the 2020 election and stealing secret government documents. Trump also has been found guilty of civil fraud and sexual abuse, resulting in fines and penalties totaling nearly $500 million.

Power Poll members say Comer’s actions are hurting his political future in Kentucky, by a margin of 56 percent (98 members) to 24 percent (42 members). Twenty percent of voting members (36 people) had no opinion.

Lexington’s Urban County Council voted 13-2 last week to prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants solely on the basis of the source of their income. Council members said the law was needed because some landlords won’t accept government housing vouchers for low-income people or veterans as well as other alternative sources of income, even though the landlord gets the same amount of money as if the tenant paid with earned income. This makes it difficult for some low-income renters to find a place to live in a city with a shortage of affordable housing. Louisville’s Metro Council unanimously passed a similar local law in 2020.

Power Poll members support the new Lexington law, by a margin of 65 percent (114 members) to 23 percent (40 members). Thirteen percent (22 members) had no opinion.

But Republican legislators are moving to block these new laws, moving through legislation that would prevent cities from banning this kind of housing discrimination. It is the latest instance of the General Assembly, which is dominated by rural Republicans, trying to set policy for Kentucky’s cities, which tend to be run by Democrats.

Lexington Power Poll members, by a margin of 80 percent (140 members) vs. 12 percent (21 percent), said that state legislators should not be trying to overrule local officials on this issue. Nine percent (15 members) had no opinion.

“Housing discrimination of any kind must not be allowed. Period. End of story,” said poll member John Mark Hack, chief strategy officer for Thoroughbred Engineering and Hargett Construction. “The fact that a Republican legislature would consider overruling the unanimous decision of Louisville's legislative branch and the near unanimous decision of Lexington's council exposes an alarming breach of principle and character among their ranks. The party that has historically espoused the virtues of local control, home rule and small government seem to suggest by this proposed action they only believe in these principles when local officials toe their ideological line.”

The final question this month was about continued efforts by Republicans to spend public money on private schools. They say families should have “school choice”. But opponents say most of the public money would end up going to reimburse families whose children are already in private schools and divert much-needed resources from public schools.

Republicans last year tried to accomplish this goal through legislation, but the courts ruled that it violated a constitutional provision that says public money can only go to “common” — public — schools. This year, a proposed constitutional amendment is likely to pass the General Assembly and be put to the state’s voters in November.

How would Kentucky voters likely decide this issue? Seventy-four percent of Power Poll members (131 people) predicted that voters would reject this kind of constitutional amendment, while 13 percent (22 members) predicted voters would approve it. Thirteen percent (23 members) had no opinion.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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