LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Defense attorneys attacked the credibility
of a key witness in a federal bid-rigging case during a hearing
Friday to determine whether secretly taped conversations can be
used at an upcoming trial.
The witness, former deputy state highway engineer Jim Rummage,
has testified that a highway construction contractor paid him bribe
money in exchange for information that helped him secure contracts
with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
The high-profile case involves prominent Kentucky road-builder
Leonard Lawson, former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert and
Lawson aide Brian Billings. Prosecutors claim they conspired to
steer $130 million in state road projects to Lawson's construction
All three men have pleaded not guilty.
Howard Mann, a Corbin attorney representing Nighbert, questioned
why Nighbert would have enlisted Rummage, a man he hardly knew, in
a criminal conspiracy. Mann pointed out that they were of different
political parties, had no social connections, and had rarely talked
before the alleged conspiracy began.
Mann suggested the arrangement would be even less likely because
Rummage was on an alleged "hit list" of Democrats in the
Transportation Cabinet targeted for firing in 2004 by the
Republican administration of former Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Nighbert
was appointed transportation secretary by Fletcher.