Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has raised more than $325,000 for his 2015 campaign since he was elected a year ago, according to finance reports he filed Monday.
Although the ballots were counted Nov. 3, 2015, Bevin did not follow the customary practice of closing his campaign accounts and turning full-time to the business of governing. Instead, he attended a series of fund-raising events for his 2015 campaign that were held throughout 2016.
Scores of lobbyists, state contractors, political appointees, Indiana gambling executives, political action committees and others with a financial interest in the Bevin administration’s decisions cut checks, usually giving him the maximum allowable donation of $1,000. Many had not previously given to Bevin, who was considered the underdog in 2015 both in the Republican primary and the general election with Democratic opponent Jack Conway.
Louisville lawyer Scott C. Cox gave Bevin $1,000 at a fund-raising reception Aug. 25. Two months earlier, Bevin had named Cox as chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, overseeing the KFC Yum! Center. However, the appointment wasn’t the reason for the donation, Cox said.
“To be honest, I was not a supporter of the governor during the election,” Cox said. “But I’ve been very impressed with his performance in office — more than anything, with the way he’s been addressing the underfunded state pension systems rather than just continuing to kick that can down the road. My mother is an 83-year-old retired school teacher who counts on getting a pension from her retirement system.”
Bevin, who was a wealthy Louisville financier, had not repaid himself any of the $1.57 million he loaned his campaign as of Friday, according to the reports. He did pay much smaller sums to his campaign staff and consultants, settling debts evidently owed from last year and ending this reporting period with a balance of $69,821.
Bevin’s campaign has raised $2.96 million so far, including his campaign loan and the sums he has raised since his election.
The governor’s office declined to answer questions about his fundraising Monday, such as whether he eventually plans to repay himself for his loan.
“The report speaks for itself,” Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said.
Under state law, Bevin doesn’t have to close his 2015 campaign committee unless he wants to raise money for a future campaign — such as re-election in 2019 — which would require him to start fresh with a new committee.
Kentucky once prohibited gubernatorial candidates from loaning themselves more than $50,000 or soliciting donations after the election, to avoid potential conflicts of interest involving a sitting governor. However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck that down as unconstitutional in 2004.
Much of Bevin’s money this year was raised at fund-raising events hosted by four men:
▪ Steven J. Megerle, a Covington attorney, raised $20,000 on Jan. 13. In 2009, Megerle pleaded guilty to the Class A misdemeanor of conspiracy to violate campaign-finance rules by trying to anonymously help finance inflammatory pamphlets with anti-homosexual overtones aimed at a Covington city commission candidate. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years.
In 2012, the Kentucky Bar Association publicly reprimanded Megerle for violating the rules of professional conduct by failing to help a client.
Megerle declined to comment Monday, other than to say he has arranged for his criminal conviction to be expunged from public records.
▪ Mark Lamkin, chief executive officer of Lamkin Wealth Management in Louisville, raised $12,600 on Aug. 8. Lamkin was briefly famous a decade ago for spending eight weeks on NBC’s The Apprentice, until Donald Trump fired him.
▪ Fred Rice, a retired insurance executive in Louisville, raised $32,500 on Aug. 25.
▪ H.M. Snodgrass, former chief executive officer of the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative in Frankfort, raised $24,250 on Aug. 29.
Some individual donors include lobbyists Jeff Speaks, Charles Gerhardt, Pat Crowley, Steven Bing and Ellen Williams, and highway contractors Arthur and Bryce Walker (The Walker Co.) and Harold Mays (H.G. Mays Corp.). Also, eight executives with Centaur Gaming — which owns two racetracks and casinos in Indiana — collectively gave Bevin $8,000 in January. A spokeswoman for the company said she could not immediately comment on the reason for the donations.