(UnitedVoice.com) – The gubernatorial race in Kentucky is one of the most closely watched in the nation this year. Sitting Governor Andy Beshear (D) is facing off against sitting Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). The fight for the governor’s mansion has attracted big donors. That led to an investigation by a media organization that wanted to know who was donating money.
What the investigative journalists found was suspicious and subsequent reporting was even worse. Now, the governor is returning money given to his campaign. The attorney general’s office is calling for an investigation.
In April, the Kentucky Lantern carried out an audit of Beshear’s campaign funds. The journalists discovered the biggest donors to the governor’s reelection campaign weren’t the usual sources. Instead, there appeared to be a new crop of donors: a group of people connected to London, Kentucky’s Republican mayor, Randall Weddle.
According to the report, the governor’s records show the mayor didn’t contribute to the campaign. However, the following people connected to Weddle donated tens of thousands of dollars, his
- wife donated $32,000;
- son gave $17,000;
- mother chipped in $7,000;
- daughter donated $16,500;
- mother-in-law threw in $7,000;
- sister gave $17,000, and;
- another sister gave $15,000.
A company connected to the mayor and its employees also donated to the governor’s campaign. Though, in that case, he claimed to have sold the business two years prior.
When Weddle was asked about the donations, he brushed it off. He said he knew that his family and some friends gave money to the governor’s reelection campaign but didn’t see a problem with it. The mayor issued a warning to the newspaper, telling them not to jump to conclusions about any funny business because everyone who the journalists named “has money.”
Beshear’s campaign manager, Eric Hyers, recently announced the donations weren’t actually made by the people named on the list with their own money. He said that they were made using a credit card that belonged to Weddle and his wife.
In an email, Hyers stated the campaign had returned $12,000 in donations that violated campaign finance laws. The Kentucky Democratic Party refunded $190,000 it had received as well.
In May, Deputy Attorney General Victor Maddox wrote the FBI and asked the agency to launch an investigation into the donations. The AG isn’t able to do so because he is running against the governor, and it would be a conflict of interest. Maddox pointed out that the contributions were the “subject of widespread coverage in statewide news outlets.” It’s unclear if federal authorities opened a probe.
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