Former state Rep. Forrest "Ben" Waide, R-Madisonville, pleaded guilty Friday to campaign finance violations involving money from a business in which he was a partner.
Waide pleaded guilty in Franklin Circuit Court to attempting to accept illegal campaign contributions and attempting unlawful campaign expenditures, according to Attorney General Jack Conway's office, which prosecuted the case. Waide was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but that sentence will be probated and supervised for two years. He also must finish paying $15,320 in restitution.
Waide served two terms in the House, elected in 2010 and 2012. While under indictment on the campaign finance charges, he ran unsuccessfully last year for Hopkins County judge-executive.
According to a 2013 lawsuit, Waide improperly diverted corporate money from Liberty Rehabilitation, a Madisonville physical therapy firm he co-owned with two other men.
The politician's ex-partners said Waide used the money without their permission to pay his campaign expenses and his legislative trips to the state Capitol in Frankfort, although taxpayers reimbursed him nearly $17,000 annually for his legislative mileage, meals and hotel rooms, according to public records.
The lawsuit led to a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, which launched the attorney general's investigation.
"I appreciate the hard work of my Department of Criminal Investigations and my Office of Special Prosecutions for holding public officials accountable for violating campaign finance laws," Conway said Friday in a statement. "These laws are in place to protect the voters in Kentucky from illegal and mismanaged elections and to ensure that there is accounting transparency in the record keeping of campaign finances and contributions."