Fletcher/RGA Illegal Coordination

To follow up on a story about Ernie Fletcher and alleged illegal coordination with the Republican Governors Association yesterday– you have got to check out this story in today’s New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Louisiana caught on to the RGA’s illegal coordination with Ernie Fletcher and they’re calling gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal out for it. Apparently, Jindal’s RGA-sponsored ads are just like Ernie Fletcher’s non-RGA ads– right down to the ‘I *Heart* UK’ artwork on the classroom wall.

The RGA is spinning this one:

Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for the governor’s association, explained that the group sometimes uses “stock footage” in its commercials to save money on production costs. That would explain why the video looks strikingly similar to an education-themed ad that ran this spring on behalf of Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Stock footage? Please, tell us, what big name production companies use stock footage as major as this? None. No one does it. Especially not Fred Davis. Especially not something so clearly produced for Ernie Fletcher.

Summer is over! FINALLY! For real this time!

$$$$$. Ernie Fletcher has raised $3.46 million and has $1.24 million on-hand. Steve Beshear has raised $5.31 million and has $1.68 million on-hand. What’s that sound? Why, it’s the cha-ching you hear coming from a challenger who has far out-raised an incumbent governor. The AP has pushed the story around the state. [C-J, Ledger Independent]

Not til next year. Everyone is reporting what we reported weeks ago. Crit is considering the Senate. Worst kept secret yet. Miraculously, the story has reappeared and everyone is shocked by the news? [Hebert]

Oh snap! Proponents of Louisville’s library tax are displaying some pretty weird behavior. Canceling public appearances left and right, lying to library staff. And Mayor Jerry Abramson (D-only when convenient) puts his foot in his mouth once again by breaking a campaign promise. Promises, promises kids! Don’t make em if you’re gonna break em. Oh, library tax opponents have hit the airwaves. [The ‘Ville Voice, YouTube]

Racism hits UK. After a controversial cartoon appeared in the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper? A threatening racist epithet was scrawled on the door of a black student’s dorm room. My, what an adult state we live in. [C-J]

Still striking. ARH nurses are still on strike throughout Eastern Kentucky and parts of West Virginia. This time the nurses have taken things to the capitol steps in WV. Not surprisingly, ARH still refuses to negotiate. [H-L]

Casino Advocate a Major Fletcher Supporter

Hypocrisy in the Fletcher campaign? What? Perhaps our dear Preacher/Doctor/Governor needs a refresher. Recall the commercials with which Ernie flooded the airwaves. Casinos bad, church good! Remember? Great.

Who has contributed to and helped raise more than $100,000 for Ernie Fletcher? None other than Northern Kentucky developer William P. Butler, a man who has for years vigorously fought to build a land-based casino in Covington. In fact, the Herald-Leader described Bill Butler (along with Jerry Carroll) as one of Kentucky’s most pro-casino businessmen.

“Two of Kentucky’s most outspoken advocates of full-scale casino gambling have lined up behind Republican Ernie Fletcher in this fall’s race for governor.”

-Lexington Herald-Leader, “Key Casino Advocates Back Fletcher,” 10/24/2003

Interesting, right?

Some facts:

  • Butler served as co-chair of Fletcher’s Northern Kentucky fundraising in 2003
  • Butler contributed $15,000 to Fletcher’s inaugural committee in 2003
  • Butler gave $1,000 to Fletcher’s current reelection campaign in December 2006
  • Fletcher raised at least $103,500 during a 2007 fundraiser hosted by Butler
  • Executives and employees of Butler’s company Corporex contributed $7,500 to Fletcher

It gets better:

William Butler was one of only three businessmen to whom Fletcher awarded the 2005 Governor’s Economic Development Leadership award during the Tenth Annual Governor’s Economic Development Leadership Awards Dinner.

Just a bit of the never-ending hypocrisy surrounding Ernie Fletcher and casino gaming. Feel free to search for yourself at the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance website. Use the contributor search terms “William P. Butler,” “Bill Butler,” and “Corporex” in the employee search.

Blowing campaign finance off? Par for the course

The Courier-Journal goes a step further in the Loftus investigation of questionable campaign contributions.

After providing a refresher of some hilarious responses given by more-than-questionable donors, the C-J ponders the following:

What great one-liners. Of course, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance should take such revelations seriously, but the agency itself is something of a joke. It hasn’t referred a suspicious donation to the attorney general’s office for further inquiry in years.

Meanwhile, a reporter looks through the records of last spring’s gubernatorial primaries and easily finds 702 contributors for whom no occupation is listed, as required by state law, not to mention a big bunch of folks, from students to receptionists, whose $1,000 contributions presumably would strain the budget.

Ding ding ding. KREF has not referred suspicious activity to the attorney general’s office in years. Recall the Steve Henry debacle during the primary this year. Did KREF refer complaints filed by Leslie Holland? No, of course not. Holland had to spend her own money getting the case directly to the attorney general’s office. The case was then referred to a prosecutor and is under investigation, no thanks to the KREF’s non-action.

It’s a sad day when an everyday citizen (or reporter) has to take it upon themselves to do the government’s job.

We really need to wake up in this state. It’s time to start paying attention to campaign finance law. It must be taken seriously if Kentucky is to be taken seriously.

Steamy, hot Tuesday goodness

Back in the USSR. Gorbachev comes to Kentucky to speak in Louisville tomorrow. Colin Powell will visit in April on his credibility restoration tour. [Hebert]

Freshly laundered money. The Associated Press picked up the campaign finance story written by Tom Loftus and dumbed it down so terribly that 99% of it disappeared. Way to go, AP, get rid of the meat. [AP via H-L]

Whistleblowing blows, man. Ernie’s whistleblower in the hiring scandal (Doug Doerting) is now helping Steve Beshear’s campaign. Ernie’s people are freaking out like there’s no tomorrow. [H-L, KY Politics]

Casino-free for one debate? Is that even possible? Billy Reed ponders whether or not it’s possible to have a gubernatorial debate without bringing up gambling. It’s certainly possible if guidelines are set. We’ve proved it here. [Billy Reed]

The facts. Make sure you have them when listening to McConnell spin about why he voted against children’s health care. [FactCheck]

Deep in the mines. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing today on mine safety. All kinds of witnesses are slated to appear. Very little in the mainstream press about the matter and we’re right in the middle of Mine Central, USA. [C-J]

Exposed: Campaign Finance Shenanigans

Tom Loftus of the Courier-Journal uncovers all kinds of campaign finance law breaking. From being reimbursed by cousins to giving cash to candidates they don’t know for who knows what reason, the gubernatorial election is wrought with money laundering.

Yep, Steve Henry is involved.

Chesney contributed $1,000 to Democrat Steve Beshear, even though he said of the gubernatorial candidate, “I don’t even know the guy.”

So why donate to a candidate he doesn’t know, in a state where he doesn’t live?

“I was reimbursed,” he said, by a cousin who is a Beshear supporter.

Note: Beshear is returning that contribution.

Here’s some Henry action:

Opal Hodges of London, is listed as giving $1,000 to Fletcher and $1,000 to Henry.

But Opal Hodges said in a phone interview she did not make the contributions.

“No I didn’t,” she said. “Look, I don’t know nothing about it.”

After she told a reporter that her daughter takes care of her money, a female voice in the background said, “Hang the damn phone up. That’s enough. You’re talking to a … reporter.”

Even more Henry dirt and juicy Ernie Fletcher tidbits:

Lauren Eggers, 21, of Somerset, is listed by Henry as making a $500 contribution and by Northup as giving $1,000. She declined comment.

Her mother, Elaine Eggers, and said she wondered how her daughter could afford to give so much money to political candidates.

“I think she was doing it for other people, to be honest with you,” Elaine Eggers said. “I didn’t know where she could get a hold of that kind of money. Because she’s a waitress, part time.”

Hannah Moses, 24, a factory worker from Williamsburg who is a friend of Amber Dufour, according to her personal Internet page on MySpace, is listed by Fletcher as giving $1,000. She also declined comment.

But her father, Michael Moses, was dubious about the contribution.

“I can’t believe that. Not my kid. Not a thousand dollars. Come on, she works in a factory,” Michael Moses said. “She doesn’t know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican.”

Interesting to note that “Dufour’s father, Phillip Dufour, and Hodges’ husband, Gordon Hodges, work for Elmo Greer & Sons, one of the largest highway contractors in the state.”

What’s going on here? Does this mean people like Steve Henry and Ernie Fletcher are illegally cultivating campaign contributions? I know for a fact (personally) that Steve Henry has done it. He’s under investigation and likely to be indicted soon. But Ernie? If he’s guilty he ought to be writing checks to return to those contributors ASAP.

And about Ernie: One has to wonder if these same individuals have contributed to his legal defense fund.

How can so many people suffer from the Steve Henry Syndrome?

Candidates: If you’re not screening the people raising your funds, screening your contributors and verifying every cent you raise– you need to close up shop and walk away right now. This is serious business. And don’t act like it’s too much work because it most certainly is not.

This is shameful. Evidence that we need campaign finance reform now more than ever.

Breaking: Fletcher Up Campaign Finance Crap Creek

The Kentucky Democratic Party today filed a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance against the Republican Governors Association & Ernie Fletcher.

In the complaint KDP alleges the RGA violated campaign finance law by exceeding the $1,000 limit placed on in-kind contributions by operating a website that actively pushes for the election of Fletcher and by running commercials that advocate the defeat of Steve Beshear. All while in collusion with Fletcher, of course.

While some of the other charges possibly won’t stick, Fletcher and the RGA are likely to be cited by the KREF for violating the in-kind contribution limit. Doesn’t seem too likely any of these acts could be considered independent expenditures since the violations are outlined so clearly. As Pol Watchers reports, $5,000 fines could be doled out for violations. Anything willful could be referred to the AG.

Not a great week for the Gubnuh.