Politics & Government

Lexington businessman pleads not guilty to charges he made illegal campaign donations

‘Not guilty.’ Lawyer says Lexington executive will fight federal charges.

Kent Wicker, lawyer for Timothy Wayne Wellman, said his client is not guilty of charges that he lied and instructed others to lie about campaign contributions.
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Kent Wicker, lawyer for Timothy Wayne Wellman, said his client is not guilty of charges that he lied and instructed others to lie about campaign contributions.

A Lexington businessman who already faces federal charges for allegedly lying about campaign contributions to Lexington council candidates in the May primary pleaded not guilty Friday to 16 state campaign finance violations.

Timothy Wayne Wellman was indicted in late August by a state grand jury for allegedly giving campaign contributions to straw contributors from March 2016 to May 2018 who donated the money to political candidates, according to an Aug. 26 indictment. The campaign finance violations are Class D felonies and carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Mitchel Denham, a lawyer for Wellman, declined to comment after the arraignment in Fayette Circuit Court Friday other than to say Wellman had pleaded not guilty. Wellman’s next court date is Sept. 26.

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

Wellman, an executive with CRM Companies, was indicted by a federal grand jury in June on nine counts of allegedly lying and instructing others to lie about campaign contributions they made 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.

The names of the straw contributors have not been released. In the state and federal indictments, the names of the straw contributors are referred to by their initials. No indictments against those straw contributors have been announced.

Neither state nor federal prosecutors have alleged the council candidates who received the contributions did anything wrong.

Attorney General Andy Beshear appointed Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine’s office to oversee the state investigation into the alleged campaign violations.

In the federal case, a lawyer for Wellman has asked a federal judge to dismiss the case against the businessman, arguing the alleged violations involved state laws and not federal campaign finance violations.

Wellman’s federal court trial is set for Dec. 9 in U.S. District Court in Frankfort.

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