Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 23, 2010

Paul's father-in-law received small USDA payments

FRANKFORT — The father-in-law of Republican Senate candidate Dr. Rand Paul received relatively small farm subsidy payments for 12 years — including a portion of a USDA payment due his deceased father’s estate in 1995.

Paul has come under fire in some quarters for his criticism of farm subsidies. During a recent radio interview Paul said the United States Department of Agriculture last year paid subsidies to “234 dead farmers” in Florida. CNHI News Service subsequently reported there were only five such payments — all legitimate because the farmer died during the crop year. He has also condemned soil conservation program payments which “pay farmers not to farm.”

Paul said his information came from a report in Readers’ Digest which ultimately relied on data collected by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington D.C. non-profit organization which collects USDA payment data and advocates for environmentally friendly farm policies.

That same database indicates Hilton Ray Ashby of Russellville, the father of Paul’s wife, Kelley, received $10,276 in soil conservation payments from USDA from 1995 through 2007. The same database shows Hilton Ray Ashby received one-third of a $1,596 payment in 1995 to the estate of H.T. Ashby.

Jesse Benton, Rand Paul’s campaign manager, confirmed that H.T. Ashby is the deceased father of Hilton Ray Ashby. CNHI News Service tried to speak with Hilton Ray Ashby, leaving messages on his home voice mail and with Benton, but was unable to reach him Friday.

Paul, who has no financial interest in the farm according to Benton, confirmed his father-in-law received the payments but said that doesn’t affect his opposition to them.

"I have stated clearly my opposition to the taxpayer paying people not to farm,” Paul said in a prepared statement.  “Especially with our massive deficits and debt, this is the type of program we simply cannot afford.  This applies to my friends and relatives as well as anyone else.  I don't think ill of my family — or anyone else for that matter — who has legally participated in this current program.  But I think it should be ended.  For them and everyone."

Don Carr, Senior Policy and Communications Advisor at EWG, said the payments to Ashby are “really not very large in the grand scheme of things.” He confirmed the payments were to keep acreage out of cultivation, thereby providing a buffer between farmland and streams to prevent soil erosion and minimize runoff of pesticides and fertilizer.

That’s something EWG supports, Carr said, although EWG is critical of some USDA payments, especially crop subsidies to corporations and large farming operations which Paul also condemns. Carr couldn’t confirm the circumstances under which the 1995 payment to the W.T. Ashby estate occurred. Benton said the payment occurred after the elder Ashby’s death.

Farm subsidies have become a key issue in the Senate race between Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.  Rural and socially conservative areas of the state – especially the agriculturally dominated First District – are considered key to the race.  Paul openly courts the conservative vote but his position on farm subsidies troubles some in the farm community.

The two candidates appeared Thursday at a forum of the Kentucky Farm Bureau where Conway said he supported the farm subsidy program and Paul stuck to his earlier position that some of the USDA programs should be scaled back or eliminated.

Dan Smaldone, KFB Director of Public Relations, said Friday the payments to Paul’s father-in-law do not affect KFB’s policy of not endorsing candidates. He said Thursday’s forum was to allow the candidates to learn about KFB policies and he called the forum “enlightening” for KFB board members.

“Kentucky Farm Bureau supports current farm policy and we are going to work with whichever candidate is put into office this November,” Smaldone said.

Conway’s campaign spokeswoman, Allison Haley, said it’s hypocritical for Paul to criticize a program which benefits some of his relatives.

“Rand Paul favors imposing his risky ideas on everyone but himself,” Haley said. “He wants to eliminate scholarships for our children and countless other forms of help for Kentuckians – but no one can touch the payments to physicians that line his pocket. He wants term limits for every Senator but himself.  Now Rand Paul has railed against programs that support our farmers while his family is benefitting directly from the very same programs.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.


Text Only
Local News
  • State’s longest trail system turns 35

    The Sheltowee Trace was officially dedicated as part of the National Recreation Trail system in 1979. After 35 years, the trail remains Kentucky’s longest distance trail, estimated at 307 miles.

    July 21, 2014

  • Pancake releases new album

    The top of the Sky Tower in downtown Ashland was booming Saturday night with music from Larry Pancake’s new album “Fair Weather Friend.”

    July 21, 2014

  • Telephone scammer fleeces man of $5,000

    A telephone scammer claimed another area victim when a Williams Avenue man paid $5,000 after the con artist told him he had won a sweepstakes but had to pay taxes on the prize money before collecting it, according to Ashland Police Department reports.

    July 21, 2014

  • Murder defendant pleads guilty on lesser charge, sentenced to 8 years

    One of four charged with murder in a 2008 double killing pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Monday just before his trial was to start.

    July 21, 2014

  • MIA Rush Marine to rest in Arlington

    Finding Dottie McCoy’s uncle after 71 years was the biggest part of the struggle.

    July 21, 2014

  • Morehead gets Trail Town status

    It has been two and a half years in the making and it happens today.
    Morehead will officially be designated a Kentucky Trail Town following Dawson Springs and Livingston.

    July 21, 2014

  • Fallsburg’s traditional haunt attracts unique talents

    Brian Cassidy said there is no substitute for individual talent while tackling tasks ranging from sculpting a massive hillbilly to inventing paintball gun brackets capable of withstanding the pressures caused by an incoming zombie attack.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local in brief: 7/22/14

    The Kentucky Interagency Coordination Center on Sunday mobilized two fire crews to assist with firefighting efforts in the western United States.

    July 21, 2014

  • marine3.jpg MIA Rush Marine to rest in Arlington

    Finding Dottie McCoy’s uncle after 71 years was the biggest part of the struggle.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0722burger2.JPG TIM PRESTON: Burgers for Boyd County bragging rights

    Looking at Saturday morning’s rainy skies, I assumed my duties as a judge for the first tailgate and burger grilling competition at the Boyd County Fairgrounds would be canceled.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos