Lexington real estate executive charged with 16 campaign finance violations

A Lexington business executive was indicted Tuesday by a Fayette County grand jury for 16 state campaign finance violations.

Timothy Wayne Wellman was charged for allegedly giving campaign contributions to straw contributors from March 2016 to May 2018 and then reimbursing those contributors after the contributions were made, according to a news release from Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine’s office.

State campaign finance law prohibits individuals from giving more than $2,000 per election cycle.

Attorney General Andy Beshear appointed Wine to investigate the alleged campaign finance violations in March.

The CRM executive was indicted in June on nine federal counts of allegedly lying and instructing others to lie about the campaign contributions to Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council candidates during the May 2018 primary. In the federal indictment, Wellman is accused of using 12 “straw contributors” to circumvent campaign finance laws.

Wellman has pleaded not guilty to the federal court charges and has asked a judge to dismiss the case against him in federal court.

Wellman’s lawyer said Tuesday his client has been indicted twice in two different courts.

“Clearly there is something wrong when the Koch brothers can make hundreds of millions of dollars in political donations, but Mr. Wellman gets indicted twice over $16,000.,” said Kent Wicker, Wellman’s lawyer. “ Neither of these cases should have ever been brought. “

CRM Companies was selected from four potential bidders to build a new city government building at the current site of the Lexington Herald-Leader building on Midland Avenue, but the city ultimately decided not to move forward with the deal last fall.

In motions filed Aug. 20 in federal court, Wicker, Wellman’s lawyer, alleged that a rival bidder who did not get the city hall project hired a former FBI agent to disparage CRM and “it then approached the government with allegations that CRM employees made campaign contributions to council member to influence their votes.”

The motion does not name the rival bidder.

In that same motion, Wicker said Wellman did not have an ownership stake in CRM Companies and would not have financially benefited from the city hall deal if it had been approved.

Wicker argued the charges should be dismissed, in part because the investigation involves state campaign laws and not federal campaign finance violations. The issue should be investigated by state prosecutors, he said.

Wellman will be arraigned Sept. 6 in Fayette Circuit Court. Wellman’s federal court trial is set for Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court in Frankfort.