FRANKFORT — Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo is collecting about $5,000 a year in rent from a tenant on the Franklin County farm he bought last July with the help of a $30,000-a-year state housing allowance.
Meanwhile, Mongiardo's chief rival in the May 18 Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate, Attorney General Jack Conway, disclosed on a state ethics form his ownership of stock in a Texas natural gas company that has been the focus of a TV ad by Mongiardo's campaign.
Mongiardo's ad claims that Conway's financial interest in Kinder Morgan Energy shows that Mongiardo is friendlier to coal than Conway and that Conway is cozy with utilities while his office is charged with protecting consumers from high utility rates.
The rent Mongiardo collects and Conway's interest in Kinder Morgan are contained in financial disclosure forms they have filed with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. State law requires all executive branch officials to file financial disclosure forms with the ethics agency by April 15.
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The statements require officials to list all sources of gross income exceeding $1,000, creditors owed more than $10,000, gifts received that have a retail value of $200 or more, and businesses in which they own an interest of more than $10,000 or 5 percent.
Mongiardo, an ear, nose and throat surgeon, listed on his form that he receives income exceeding $1,000 from his medical center in Hazard, business condominiums in Hazard, 20 trading securities and "rent from a small tenant house" on the 54-acre farm at 1004 Louisville Road he bought last July for $753,069 from Frankfort businessman Jerry Lunsford.
Mongiardo campaign spokesman Kim Geveden said the rent Mongiardo collects on the farm is about $5,000 a year.
The Mongiardo property has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race.
Conway has said Mongiardo should repay the housing allowance he receives from the state because Mongiardo has lived with his in-laws in Frankfort and has plans to develop and profit from the property.
Geveden said Wednesday that Mongiardo and his wife, Allison, did live in the large house on the property from July to December but had to leave when the furnace broke.
Geveden repeated Mongiardo's previous statements that he will not develop the farm. Mongiardo did acknowledge last week that he had tried to develop the property as a partner with Lunsford in 2003.
Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said Wednesday that "using public money to pay for a private land deal is certainly unethical and, if it isn't illegal, it should be."
On his latest disclosure form with the state, Mongiardo said he is a partner with 21st Century Development Co. in Frankfort, which is registered with the state by Lunsford.
Lunsford has not returned phone calls for comment.
State law does not spell out how the housing stipend to lieutenant governors should be used.
Meanwhile, Geveden raised questions about when Conway bought stock in Kinder Morgan, how much money he spent, where it came from and Kinder Morgan's business relationships with Atmos Energy, a utility company that does business in Kentucky.
Haley said Conway reported to the U.S. Senate last year that he had investments worth $1 million to $5 million with Kinder Morgan and made them in February 2007.
She added that Conway was able to make the investment from money he made in the "private sector" before he became attorney general in January 2008 and that Kinder Morgan employs 121 Kentuckians in the coal industry.
Concerning Mongiardo's accusations that Conway is friendly to utilities, Haley said Conway works diligently to protect consumers from exorbitant utility rates and that it is the Public Service Commission that ultimately sets utility rates.
She said Mongiardo is "lashing out with conspiracy theories in an attempt to try to distract from his crumbling integrity."
Conway also listed on his disclosure form that he is a partner with BCRS Partners, a Louisville real estate development business.
He listed investments in several stocks, mutual funds and a horse that's racing in this year's Kentucky Derby. He also claimed ownership of a home in Louisville, property around Nolin Lake near Leitchfield and undeveloped lots at Preston Crossings in Louisville. He listed two Louisville banks as creditors.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, listed owning property in Walton and a Covington bank as creditor for the mortgage on his family's home.
Grayson did not list any investments or other sources of income other than his state salary.