August 15, 2013

Clerk files complaint against Grimes

Senate candidate allegedly used state email to solicit money for campaign

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Using state equipment and state contacts to solicit money for a political campaign is an issue now before the state’s Ethics Commission.

The complaint was filed against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who recently threw her hat into the ring as the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race for 2014.

The question of ethics came after Grimes sent emails to all county clerks in the state, not only asking for their support in the Senate race but also asking for their monetary support.

According to the Associated Press, Republican Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson filed the complaint at the end of July, one week after receiving the email from Grimes.

Johnson said he received numerous calls from other recipients of the email, questioning whether such practice was legal or ethical. Although that might be considered legal, it does raise the question of ethics.

Johnson said the issue is not about who filed the claim but whether Grimes’ actions of using state equipment and lists of county clerks to solicit campaign contributions is ethical.

“This is not about me. It is whether using state equipment to promote a political campaign is ethical or not,” he said. “She (Lundergan) has denied it but I started getting calls from other county clerks — some of them Democrats too — of whether that was proper or not. It’s not an issue for me to decide, so I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission and let them decide.”

Grimes, a Democrat, will running against long-time Senator Mitch McConnell in the 2014 U.S. Senate race. She was one of several potential candidates, with one of the first being Kentucky native and actress Ashley Judd. After Judd declined, Grimes was courted by Democrats to try and unseat the Senate Minority Leader.

However, officials with the Kentucky Ethics Commission said they could neither confirm nor deny any claims against Grimes had been filed. They also cannot disclose any details of an ongoing investigation. A representative with the state Ethics Commission said only when an investigation leads to charges being filed can information be released publicly.