FRANKFORT — Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, have illegally spent campaign funds, a Louisville man alleged in a complaint filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Steve Neal, former executive director of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, asked for an investigation and presented documents that he said show that Williams, the president of the state Senate, and Farmer, the state agriculture commissioner, spent money on their campaign before filing a letter of intent with the registry.
"Breaking campaign finance laws before your campaign even gets out of the gate is not a good way to earn the trust of Kentucky voters," Neal said in a statement. "This is a very serious matter not only because we have a man who wants to lead the commonwealth breaking the law, but also because David Williams helped write these laws and can't plead ignorance to them."
Scott Jennings, campaign manager for Williams and Farmer, said in an e-mail that Neal's complaint is without merit and was filed "by a hyper-partisan individual with an axe to grind."
Jennings said the Williams-Farmer slate did not raise or spend any campaign-related money before its Sept. 1 filing.
Neal said his complaint is not related to the state Senate's decision last year not to hold a hearing to confirm his appointment by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to the state Board of Education. The Senate's inaction meant he could not serve on the board.
"I was disappointed with the Senate, but I filed this complaint because I want to make sure the Senate president follows the law," Neal said in a phone interview. "It looks like to me they got the cart before the horse."
Neal said he was not working for any gubernatorial campaign but will vote for Beshear's re-election efforts.
Jennings responded: "Hell hath no fury like a political crony scorned."
Neal's complaint, filed Wednesday, notes three instances in which he says the Williams-Farmer slate spent money before filing a letter of intent.
The two Republicans announced their slate Sept. 1 and filed a letter of intent that day. But Neal said the two posted a video announcing their candidacy and a campaign Web site that same day and had to spend money on them before Sept. 1.
He also said Got-Focus LLC conducted a statewide poll July 12 to 14 for the Williams-Farmer ticket, and Williams shared the information with members of the media in July.
Kentucky campaign finance law states that candidates who have not filed a letter of intent are barred from receiving contributions or making expenditures.
Additionally, it is against the law for any candidates to give consent for anyone to raise or spend money on their behalf that would promote their candidacies before the candidate files a letter of intent, Neal said.