Rick Howlett

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years.   Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.

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Former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined $150,000 for orchestrating a scheme to funnel illegal contributions to his daughter’s failed 2014 U.S. Senate campaign against Republican Mitch McConnell.

Lundergan and former consultant Dale Emmons were convicted last year by a federal jury in Frankfort of directing more than $200,000 in illegal corporate contributions to benefit Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that Emmons was sentenced to three years’ probation, but will have to serve nine months in a community facility such as a halfway house.

J. Tyler Franklin

The University of Louisville has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding alleged recruiting violations by the men’s basketball program under former head coach Rick Pitino.

The notice lists four allegations, including an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits to the family of a student athlete. It says the benefits were arranged by two former U of L assistant coaches and representatives from the Adidas sports apparel company.

In 2017, U of L fired head basketball coach Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich after federal prosecutors implicated the school in a pay for play scheme involving recruit Brian Bowen.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky radio host Matt Jones says he won’t be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020.

Jones had formed an exploratory committee as he considered whether to seek the Democratic nomination to unseat longtime Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.

Jones made the announcement Friday morning on his Kentucky Sports Radio program.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said in an interview that he would contribute to buy a ticket for Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to visit her native Somalia.

Paul made the comments when asked by Breitbart News about racist tweets by President Donald Trump, saying Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back” to the “broken” countries they came from.

Three of the four were born in the U.S., while Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia.

21c Museum

The owners of 21c Museum Hotels are selling a majority interest in their company to the multinational AccorHotels group.

AccorHotels announced Tuesday that it’s acquiring 85 percent of 21c from founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson. The purchase price is $51 million.

Brown and Wilson established the flagship 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville in 2006. The company now operates eight properties in seven states, with three more in development.  The properties combine a boutique hotel, contemporary art gallery and chef-driven restaurant and bar.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify finished a final workout at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Belmont Stakes and pursuit of a Triple Crown.

Trainer Bob Baffert watched the colt complete his workout with jockey Martin Garcia. Jockey Mike Smith will be back aboard Justify in the Belmont.

Justify galloped with about 100 spectators watching on the Churchill Downs front stretch and just as many on the backside.

Lisa Gillespie

A federal judge in Kentucky has temporarily stalled the enforcement of a new abortion law being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The legislation signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin bans a common second trimester abortion procedure known as “dilation and evacuation.” The procedure was used in 537 of 3,312 abortions done in Kentucky in 2016, according to state statistics. During legislative debates, the bill’s supporters called the procedure “gruesome.”

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general says he’ll go to court to challenge the pension overhaul bill passed by lawmakers in the Republican-controlled General Assembly Thursday night.

In a video, Andy Beshear said  he’s outraged over the measure, which sponsors attached to an unrelated bill dealing with sewage.

“They plopped a 291 page bill in front of lawmakers and made them vote on it without reading it,” Beshear said. “And they didn’t even have the required actuarial analysis which would tell you and me whether it would even work, whether it would save a dime.”

University of Louisville

The University of Louisville Athletic Association Personnel Committee and the U of L Board of Trustees will meet again Wednesday to consider the hiring of a new men’s basketball coach.

It’s being widely reported that the job will go to Chris Mack, the head coach at Xavier for the past nine seasons.

Mack would replace Rick Pitino as permanent coach. Pitino, along with athletic director Tom Jurich, was fired last fall amid allegations of recruiting violations.

David Padgett served as the interim coach over the past season.

Kyeland Jackson

The Ohio River reached its crest Monday afternoon and officials say it will take several days for the water to return to its normal level and for floodwaters to recede.

Heavy rains over the past week caused widespread flooding in communities along the river, forcing people from their homes and prompting numerous road closures.

Officials say once the waters recede, the next steps are damage assessment and debris cleanup.

J. Tyler Franklin

A renewed push is on to bring a National Basketball Association franchise to Louisville.

More than 20 local investors have contributed $750,000 in seed money to start the initiative.

They include former ambassador to Great Britain Matthew Barzun, Brown-Forman Company chairman George Garvin Brown and businessman Gill Holland.

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An Indiana Senate committee has overwhelmingly voted down legislation that would have allowed grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations to sell cold beer.

Indiana is the only state that regulates the temperature at which beer is sold.

Grocery and convenience stores and pharmacies can sell cold wine and warm beer. But the sale of carryout cold beer is primarily limited to liquor stores, whose owners say expanded cold beer sales would force many out of business.

J. Tyler Franklin

The University of Louisville’s accreditation is no longer under probation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, announced today that U of L met nine “concerns in areas of governance, administration and finance”  it set down to lift the probation.

The university was placed on probation by SACS a year ago amid concerns raised by Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of the board of trustees, along with a list of other issues.

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Former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the university’s athletic association.

Pitino was fired for cause last month by the association’s board amid an FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting.

The suit, filed Thursday in federal court, says the school effectively fired Pitino in late September when it placed him on administrative leave and locked him out of his office. It says Pitino should have been given 10 days’ notice and an opportunity to be heard, as specified in his contract.

Rick Howlett

The University of Louisville Board of Trustees has fired athletic director Tom Jurich.

The action Wednesday afternoon came during a special board meeting. The board voted 10-3 in favor of firing Jurich for cause.

Jurich was placed on paid administrative leave last month after the school acknowledged that it was included in an FBI investigation of recruiting practices in men’s college basketball.

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