Judge throws out ethics rules for Ky. lobbyists, lawmakers

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A federal judge has thrown out much of Kentucky’s ethics law regulating contact between legislators and lobbyists.

U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman said Kentucky’s law banning lawmakers from accepting gifts or “anything of value” from lobbyists was too vague. He also ruled it was OK for lobbyists to donate to politicians’ campaigns and to raise money for them.

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Kentucky’s ethics law is widely considered to be one of the toughest in the nation. It was put in place in the 1990s following an FBI investigation that resulted in about a dozen lawmakers convicted of taking bribes to pass legislation that benefited the horse industry.

Republican Sen. John Schickel, who brought the lawsuit, called it a victory for free speech. Ethics officials worried the order could have unintended consequences.