Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky and the Kentucky Democratic Party received over $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions from another state official, but the money has since been returned, according to a report on Tuesday.
Beshear and the state Democratic Party received approximately $202,000 in contributions from a credit card belonging to Democratic Mayor Randall Weddle of London, Kentucky, a town in the southern part of the state, according to the Kentucky Lantern. The contributions were in excess of the $2,100 per election limit for individuals donating to candidates, per the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. (RELATED: Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron Wins GOP Gubernatorial Primary, Will Challenge Dem Gov)
The donations, according to the Lantern, were allegedly made by different individuals who are either family members of Weddle or employees of his private company, Weddle-WB Group, and using Weddle’s credit card. While the practice of bundling, where one person collects money from others and donates it altogether to a candidate is legal, an individual cannot exceed the state campaign contribution limit to do so.
I asked now Gov. Andy Beshear, if he plans to attend Fancy Farm 2023, on the first Saturday in August. pic.twitter.com/bMmwJbcmev
— Mario Anderson 📺 (@MarioAndersonTV) June 19, 2023
Beshear’s campaign manager said that the money was refunded to the individuals who made the contributions, totaling $2,000 each to six people, while $190,000 was reimbursed by the Kentucky Democratic Party. “[W]e have taken proactive steps to prevent this from happening again,” the campaign said.
Republicans, however, were quick to respond to the news of the contributions as evidence of corruption. “Andy Beshear only returned this money after getting caught in a pay-to-play scandal,” tweeted Sean Southard, the communications director for Cameron and the Kentucky Republican Party. “This is the latest in a long pattern of Andy getting caught with corrupt campaign contributions or selling off government to the highest bidder.”
“[He] handed out $1.4 million in taxpayer money to the same donor,” said Courtney Alexander, the national press secretary for the Republican Governor’s Association, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Not only does this reek of campaign finance corruption, but it isn’t the first time Beshear has accepted illegal contributions…taxpayers deserve to know if their money was used as a political thank-you gift.”
Beshear is seeking reelection and will face Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Current polling shows Cameron and Beshear tied in the gubernatorial race with 47% each, according to RealClearPolitics. The election, held in odd years, will be on Nov. 7.
In a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation, a spokesperson for the Attorney General of Kentucky’s office said that it “will consider all appropriate options in connection with the contributions in question.”
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