As reported on September 30, several candidates during the gubernatorial primary this year accepted what appear to be illegal campaign contributions. The Attorney General’s office is now investigating and the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance is finally examining its audit process.
The Courier-Journal discovered in September that Steve Henry, Ernie Fletcher and Anne Northup had received laundered money from family members and friends of donors who were looking for patronage. What makes things worse, though, is that some donors had no idea they’d made contributions (one donor’s daughter yelled and made her hang up the phone) while others had jobs barely paying them enough to eat let alone make campaign contributions.
Steve Beshear was also involved. He received $1,000 from a donor in Tennessee who said he was reimbursed by a cousin. Beshear, to his credit, returned the funds upon learning where the money came from. The other candidates wouldn’t dream of returning dirty money.
As unfortunate as this situation is– with laundered money and all– isn’t it a bit refreshing to have this information brought to light? Cleaning campaign finance up is a step in the right direction for Kentucky. We just wish people took it more seriously and wish the agencies responsible had more reach and manpower.