I read today’s editorial in the Herald-Leader with passing amusement. The Herald-Leader Editors take the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) to task for not acting promptly.
A newspaper reporter turns up a bunch of very suspicious political contributions, including a pattern involving highway contractor Elmo Greer & Sons, and the state agency responsible for policing campaign finance is on it like sweet on sugar, right?
Moving at its usual glacial pace, the Registry of Election Finance says it won't complete audits from the May primary and be ready to refer possible violations for criminal investigation until early next year.
They were referring to this article from the Courier-Journal. Notice how they never say Courier-Journal, or how the Herald-Leader reporters are doing investigative work, but that’s a rant for another time.
Bottom line is the Herald-Leader missed the point.
Yes KREF should look into this mess but if the Registry of Election Finance investigated every suspicious political contribution they would probably have to investigate every contribution.
For instance here are some examples of contributions by employer, a simple search on the KREF site.
First up a couple of big law firms, $198,150.48 from Stoll, Keenon, Park or Stoll Keenon Ogden or whatever the name is today and $168,613.85 from Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs. Politicians love milking law firms and lawyers love to be milked. If the Herald-Leader wants to investigate something, how about the state contracts these guys have.
Then there are big corporations like Humana, who contracts to handle state health insurance, coming in at $134,500.62, Ball Homes (I’m getting tired of beating on Don Ball and Family) at $244,533.00 and the Stearns Company (read that Stearns Coal Company) at $99,725.00. You have to protect those corporate profits somehow.
Of course there are always the contributions from our underpaid educators with the employees of Fayette County Schools at $27,100.00 and Jefferson County Public Schools at $42,662.73. Higher education comes in with a few more bucks with employees of the University of Kentucky at $177,341.80.
But let’s forget the chump-change and talk serious money.
Employees of the Commonwealth of Kentucky have given $1,920,868.35 to politicians. This includes all of the shuffling of money done by the Honorable Representatives in the General Assembly and any other politician that makes it into office.
But the real zinger is the smoke and mirrors of employers.
Homemakers gave $356,540.50, retired people, on not so limited income, gave $1,417,892.23 and the ever popular classification of self-employed shelled out $4,373,088.24 to political wannabees.
That’s over six million dollars from individuals that do not work for anyone else. Where did the money really come from?
So if you are going to investigate every funny looking contribution, just start with the first check and go to the last.
Perhaps the Herald-Leader could have better used the ink to talk about public financing of elections instead of beating up on Registry of Election Finance.