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.

Children’s Health or Big Money Donors?

Remember when McConnell used to support campaign finance reform? Yeah? Those days are over.

Mitch McConnell continues to oppose legislation that would help provide health coverage to 158,000 children across Kentucky.

Public Campaign Action Fund has produced a web ad pointing out that McConnell would rather put the needs of his big tobacco campaign contributors ahead of the health of children.



Autopsies, Drugs & Money

Ron Holmes, Jefferson County’s Democratic Coroner and well-known author, has lost his marbles. He’s innocent until proven guilty, of course, but there’s no way we can ignore this circus.

Holmes is under investigation for pulling a Steve Henry. Current and former deputies accuse him of using office funds for himself. More specifically, the Coroner’s office raises money for a program that buys grave markers for indigents and Holmes has allegedly spent it on God knows what.

He’s also accused of illegally seizing prescription medications from investigation scenes, requiring they be given directly to him. Holmes told WHAS11 News it’s bunk and then those accusing him produced photos of the medications inside his desk and other personal areas.

And like Steve Henry he’s (allegedly) illegally pushed for campaign contributions– demanding that his deputies donate or face losing their jobs. One of those deputies, Mark Handy, confirmed for WHAS11 that Holmes made the threats while asking for funds.

Just days later– after speaking to the media– Mark Handy was fired. Handy says it was in retaliation for speaking out and it’s difficult to believe anything else. Especially with Holmes refusing to provide justification for the termination, only saying Handy was canned for “several other reasons.” Hoo boy.

Get ready, boys and girls. The circus has just begun.

The More You Know Dept

From a reliable source: Steve Beshear will report more than $4million raised on his October report with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. That amount doesn’t include what’s been raised in the KDP’s coffers. His downtown Louisville fundraiser tonight will allegedly be the largest in the campaign’s history. [Source]

Ernie Fletcher features another gambling addict in an ad. This time from Kansas City, MO. Here’s the ad. We’re tired of commercials. Is it November yet? [C-J’s Arena, The Internets]

Political Wire says Kentucky Republicans are in trouble. Kentuckians roll their eyes, not surprised. [Political Wire]

Funny. No, Louisville isn’t “Yarmuth Liberal” – it’s a heck of a lot more liberal than John. That’s for certain. [BGRS]

Even Richmond is talking about McConnell & Rogers being on the most corrupt list. [Richmond Register]

Moving on? Steve Henry’s long-time campaign guy and former treasurer Greg Schell has left his political consulting life. He’s moved on to Louisville’s Arison Insurance Services, Inc as a sales executive. Prediction: the Henry money pot has dried up. [C-J]

Come on, Kentucky! Get rich quick schemes are just that— schemes. No pyramid crap, either. Don’t listen to the lady in the coffee shop trying to turn you into “travel agent” unless she’s registered with the Attorney General’s office. [Consumer Affairs]