Covering Frankfort

Oct 14, 2012 3:30 PM

Former Rand Paul Aide Getting Fundraising Help

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former campaign aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul who resigned amid a controversy about a racial posting on his MySpace page is getting political support from his former boss, even though they parted company nearly three years ago.

Republican Christopher Hightower, who is challenging Democratic state Rep. Martha Jane King for the 16th District state House seat, banked about $7,000 from a fundraiser headlined by Paul in August. He got an additional $1,000 from Paul's political action committee, Rand PAC.

Hightower said the contributions from Paul, plus another $2,000 from U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's Bluegrass Committee PAC, speak to his credibility as a candidate.

Hightower, 40, of Auburn, resigned as Paul's campaign coordinator in December 2009 during the primary race because of images someone posted on his MySpace page. Those images included a black-and-white photograph of a lynching that had been posted on the site by someone identified only as "D."

The racial tone of the post triggered a storm of criticism, leading to Hightower's resignation even though he adamantly denied any connection to the images. Paul said at the time he accepted Hightower's resignation because "it is impossible to present the ideas and reforms we need in this country with this controversy present."

When asked Thursday if voters should be concerned about the MySpace incident, Paul simply responded no.

Moderators have questioned Hightower about the controversy at political forums, but King hasn't made it a campaign issue.

"I don't feel like it's my job to tell anybody why he left Dr. Paul's campaign," King said. "So I have not gotten into his background and what he has done. My race is about what I have done."

A tea party candidate, Hightower said trying to paint him as a racist in the largely rural legislative district encompassing Logan and Todd counties is a tough sale. "The difference here is that a lot of people know me, and it doesn't work here," he said. "People know that's not true."

Tea party activist David Adams, who managed Paul's GOP primary campaign, said Hightower's blunder was simply that he didn't monitor postings on his MySpace page closely enough.

"I'm a huge Chris Hightower fan, and I would vouch for his work ethic, his intelligence and his character anyplace," Adams said.

King, who has served two terms in the state House, is promoting herself as an advocate for Kentucky farmers, an important voting bloc in the 16th District, and as a guardian against tax increases in Frankfort.

A transportation logistics agent, King, 57, of Lewisburg, also has helped push bills through the legislature to ensure soldiers and veterans get preference when applying for jobs in state government and that they get tuition waivers to public colleges and universities.

Describing herself as "a woman of faith," King also has taken the lead in a private initiative to renovate a chapel on the second floor of the Capitol. The work has come to a standstill, and has left the chapel unusable for the past year. King said she now expects the work to be completed by the end of the year.

On the stump, Hightower has been espousing tea party principles, voicing disdain for big government, high taxes, burdensome regulations and overspending. He has pledged to oppose tax increases, but he also favors tax reform. He said he wouldn't necessarily rule out a grocery tax, which has been proposed in Kentucky, if it meant eliminating the state's income tax.

"My theory on taxes is I don't want to raise taxes anywhere without lowering them somewhere else," he said. "I think everything should be on the table."

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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