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Feds Indict Prominent Kentucky Democrats For Campaign Violations


Former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan and Democratic strategist Dale Emmons have been indicted on federal charges of making illegal campaign contributions and conspiring to cover them up.

The charges originated in the U.S. District Court’s eastern district, which includes Lexington, and were first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Lundergan, 71, is the father of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Dale Emmons is a Democratic political operative who worked on Lundergan Grimes’ campaigns.

According to the Herald-Leader, the federal grand jury was focused on contributions to Lundergan Grimes’ 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate.

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In a statement released by Bradford Queen, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, Lundergan Grimes said the allegations “started as a result of a politically motivated complaint filed against my campaign nearly five years ago.”

Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, said the complaint was already investigated “and completely dismissed” by the bipartisan Federal Election Commission.

“I love my father, and I have faith in the judgment and fairness of the people of Kentucky, and believe when all of the facts are in, my father will be vindicated,” Lundergan Grimes said in the statement. “Because this matter is in the courtroom and not the world of politics, I have no further comment.”

Tres Watson, spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said it’s “astounding [Lundergan Grimes] would allow this” to happen in her campaign.

“It’s one of most egregious campaign finance crimes to ever occur in the state, and it’s coming out of the campaign of our state’s chief election officer,” Watson said. “It’s astonishing, it’s shocking.”

In 2016, a Lexington grand jury subpoenaed records from Lundergan Grimes’ campaign finance. According to the Herald-Leader, Lundergan Grimes reported paying $111,831 to Lexington companies owned by her father and $41,745 more in direct payments to him and other family members, for various services.

Lundergan, who was also a state representative, was convicted of an ethics violation in 1989 related to his taking a no-bid $154,000 state contract. That conviction was later overturned.

Lundergan Grimes was in the news earlier this week after state GOP officials called for a federal investigation into her alleged abuse of power. State Board of Elections Executive Director Jared Dearing sent a letter to board members on Monday accusing Grimes of misusing the voter registration database and ordering staff not to comply with a federal court order.

A bipartisan board that oversees Kentucky’s elections unanimously voted to reaffirm the secretary of state’s role as the state’s chief election officer. Lundergan Grimes told reporters Tuesday she “vigorously” disputed those accusations, calling them bizarre propaganda. 

R.G. Dunlop and Eleanor Klibanoff contributed to this report.

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