New bid-rigging judge is related to lobbyist

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The fourth judge to be assigned to a
highway bid-rigging case says he is the father-in-law of a highway
industry lobbyist.
U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester confirmed Friday to The
Courier-Journal of Louisville that he is the father-in-law of Sean
Cutter, a Frankfort lobbyist whose clients include the Kentucky
Association of Highway Contractors.
One of the defendants, road contractor Leonard Lawson, owns
companies that are members of the association. His son, Steve
Lawson, is a former president of the association.
Leonard Lawson, former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert
and Lawson employee Brian Billings have pleaded not guilty to
charges that they conspired to steer about $130 million worth of
highway construction contracts.
Already, three judges have disqualified themselves from the
case, two for potential conflicts and one without explanation.
Forester said Friday before he took the case that he asked
Cutter if he represented Lawson and was told no. But he said he
learned Friday from a Lexington Herald-Leader reporter that Cutter
was a registered lobbyist for the contractors association.

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