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Playing Field Now Level For Donations By Unions And Corporations In Kentucky

Mary Lou Lang Contributor

The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance agreed Wednesday to the final judgment in a lawsuit challenging the unequal treatment of unions and corporations under the state’s campaign financial laws and now levels the playing field in campaign donations.

The ruling by a federal judge earlier this year found the state’s law violated the federal Constitution’s requirement of equal treatment, according to the Goldwater Institute, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the corporation Protect My Check.

The judge struck down the law in Kentucky that allowed only unions, not corporations, to give money directly to state and local political candidates and to also support candidates through union-funded political action committees. Corporations were barred from contributing even one dollar to a candidate or to a PAC.

“This judgment will put an end to the case and an end to an era of unequal treatment in Kentucky election law,” said Jim Manley, the lead attorney from Goldwater Institute, in an email.

The new law will affect state and local candidates, not candidates for federal office.

Goldwater Institute indicated they have filed a challenge to a similar law in Massachusetts, and pointed out that four other states — Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, and West Virginia — also have these laws on the books.

The AFL-CIO of Kentucky, when the lawsuit was filed, called it “unconscionable” as the state’s law’s “protected the integrity of the public,” according to the Lexington-Herald Leader.