Jacob Payne


Meticulous. Persistent. Proven.
Hire me to conduct your research when results matter.

Since you're reading this, you likely already know my work product and that's why you want to hire me. But if you don't...

Some of my efforts:

Nearly a decade of deep reporting and uncovering corruption at Louisville Metro Animal Services resulted in the ouster of director after director – along with countless abusive and corrupt government employees. I documented instance of horrific abuse after instance of horrific abuse and pushed legislative change. One series of reporting on abuse at the agency resulted in Sadie's Law (named in honor of the dog I profiled) – Louisville, Kentucky's whistleblower protection ordinance – and nearly a year of bipartisan government hearings and investigation. Highlights from that heartbreaking series involved a police cover-up and a retribution scheme managed by the city's mayoral administration. That work altered the direction of animal care in Kentucky's largest city.

After uncovering a level of corruption – still can’t fully believe it! – in Montgomery County Schools that shook me to my core, I shed light on the situation day in and day out for five years. Everyone in power sat on their hands, turning a blind eye to abuses of authority and outright law breaking, thieving and good old boy shenanigans you only see on television. It was a real-life Lifetime movie. My reporting resulted in the cleanup of an entire school district (way more insane than you're thinking) and the ouster of Kentucky's Commissioner of Education. Years of background research and hundreds of interviews forced the termination of the district's superintendent, federal investigations, scathing state government audits, the discovery of child endangerment, Kentucky's longest and largest Education Professional Standards Board investigation and hearing. Nearly a dozen legal victories paid out millions to multiple victims.

Much of my career was spent reporting on Kentucky Retirement Systems-related scandals and the Commonwealth's ongoing pension crises. While Kentucky's mainstream media ignored the problem, my work resulted in national attention and even a book called Kentucky Friend Pensions by Chris Tobe. I was there in the beginning and everything I uncovered ended up being a nightmare.

While former Lt. Governor Steve Henry and his wife were committing campaign finance fraud, personally benefiting from what were alleged to be non-profit organizations (Rosemary Clooney House, anyone? Kentucky Prostate Cancer Coalition?) and co-mingling funds, I got the Office of the Attorney General to hold Henry accountable. That work resulted in three Alford Pleas and the end of a political dynasty.

Rick Pitino's myriad messes may top your memory of corruption at the University of Louisville but he's nothing compared to Robert Felner. Felner, now a convicted felon in part because of my work, embezzled millions and defrauded major universities in Kentucky, Rhode Island and Illinois. Two years of my reporting focused on that corruption – revealing administrative coverups, pay-for-play degrees and harassment scandals that rival those of Harvey Weinstein. That series rocked the world of higher education in ways that are resonating a decade later.

As the entire country speculated about Senator Mitch McConnell and an illegal wiretap/recording of a campaign meeting? I identified those responsible and uncovered a secret history of drug trafficking and murder. A history that politicians and others conspired to hide from the public eye.

I've even been defamed (yep, me, a progressive independent) by individuals tied closely to the Kentucky Democratic Party because of my work. I sued and won a settlement - pushed for by the perpetrators. Contrary to fabricated documents and wild claims about me at the time, I ultimately won and for a reason - I was right. They spread photos of my deceased mother's body, sent flowers to her funeral, launched a coordinated media campaign against me, went after friends and family in attempt to harm me personally. My independent reporting caused such an impact that a circle of political hacks thought they could frighten me into shutting up. That didn't happen. Dedication and being on the right side of history won. Growing up gay in the hills of Appalachia instilled the kind of grit and determination you won't find elsewhere and it served me well in court. It also serves my clients because they can see proof I don't back down from fights in order to get a job done.

My work has been recognized or acknowledged by: MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Providence Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cincinnati Enquirer, LEO Weekly, Louisville Magazine, The Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, television and radio media throughout the country.

Let me help you by putting my skills to use.