On Thursday, former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, the father of former Democratic Party senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who unsuccessfully challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, was convicted of funneling illegal corporate campaign contributions into his daughter’s campaign.
According to Kentucky.com. Lundergan was convicted on 10 charges; federal prosecutors had stated that Lundergan and Democratic political consultant Dale Emmons had not sought reimbursement from the campaign after giving the campaign $200,000 in 2013-14. Each man could serve 20 years in prison.
J. Guthrie True, Lundergan’s attorney, stated, “We would intend to take this appeal as high as possible.”
Kentucky.com noted that the state’s Democratic Party has been significantly weakened by the affair, noting, “Lundergan served two terms as chairman of the state party and built up control over a faction of the party. Emmons had worked on hundreds of campaigns from the state House to the U.S. Senate.”
Kentucky.com added, “Evidence showed Lundergan was paying Emmons $20,000 a month in 2013 as Grimes’ campaign was getting off the ground.” Evidence appeared to show Lundergan made improper payments to support Grimes’ campaigns for secretary of state in 2011 and 2015.
Although the defense claimed that the two men had simply made mistakes, assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone countered, “Innocent mistakes do not happen over a four year period, repeatedly.”
In 2014, Manu Raju of Politico reported that there were possible illegalities being committed in the Grimes campaign, writing that it was illegal for a campaign to receive goods and services below the fair market value from a corporation, and that Lundergan’s company had rented a bus to his daughter’s campaign “for a fraction of what other companies would typically charge, according to a POLITICO analysis.”
Raju continued, “A review of Federal Election Commission records shows Grimes paid less than $11,000 through June to rent the bus for at least 24 days, amounting to about $456 per day. Officials at four bus companies said they typically charge $1,500 to $2,000 a day to rent a similarly sized bus, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign said it spent at least $2,200 per day to rent essentially the same bus during a swing earlier this month. That would amount to a savings of tens of thousands of dollars for the Democrat’s campaign.”
Raju tweeted on Thursday, “Grimes’ campaign furiously denied my story from 2014 about what appeared to be an illegal campaign gift the father gave to his daughter’s campaign: The bus.”
Defense attorneys contended that for Lundergan to give money into his daughter’s campaign made no sense as she had raised over $2.5 million in the first quarter of the campaign. But Boone noted that in the early stages of the campaign, it did not have the heavy funding, thus providing Lundergan a reason to under-bill the campaign in order to boost the image of Grimes as a serious challenger.
Boone concluded, “The simplest explanation for this is that Jerry Lundergan just didn’t care about the law.”