Politics & Government

Kentucky GOP asks U.S. attorney for investigation of Grimes campaign

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Alison Lundergan Grimes Photo provided

The Republican Party of Kentucky plans to ask a U.S. attorney Monday to investigate claims made by former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry that he was offered future favors to drop out of the race against Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In a letter provided to the Herald-Leader by the Republican Party, state GOP Chairman Steve Robertson asks U.S. Attorney David Hale in Louisville to investigate Marksberry's claims.

Robertson urges Hale to "appropriately prosecute the hiring/payoff scheme orchestrated by Secretary Grimes' campaign and brought to light by none other than the offeree, Mr. Marksberry."

The letter cites Marksberry's 15-page missive to PageOneKentucky.com, which the website published last week.

Marksberry's credibility has been questioned in recent days after he admitted that he previously lied when he told WFPL, a public radio station in Louisville, that he had not been offered anything to drop out of the race.

The Grimes campaign denied Marksberry's allegations last week, issuing a statement that said his claims "did not happen."

Jonathan Hurst, a senior adviser to the Grimes campaign, declined to comment Saturday about the GOP's request for an investigation.

In his letter, Marksberry wrote that he was approached by someone close to Jerry Lundergan, the candidate's father and a former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, and was told they were concerned about his position in the race.

Lundergan and Hurst are both named in the GOP's request for an investigation.

Marksberry wrote that he was told by the third party, whom he did not name, that if he dropped out of the race and Grimes won the Senate seat, that "there could be a favor owed to me."

"Whatever that means, I don't know," Marksberry wrote. "But I took it that if I ever needed some help in the future, I could call in my political equity with him."

Marksberry wrote of his desire to see Grimes beat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, so he proposed that "if they would agree to find a spot on their campaign for my manager and pay off my web designer debt, then I would happily abide by their request."

Marksberry wrote that Hurst at first "freaked out" when Marksberry called him to discuss the deal that the unnamed go-between had agreed to, but he said Hurst later called him back, apologized and said "everything is worked out."

"We had a deal, we didn't have a deal and then we had a deal," Marksberry wrote. "I didn't like what I just witnessed; they showed a lack of being cool under pressure and made me feel like a cheap prostitute."

Marksberry wrote that he ultimately decided not to make the alleged deal, although he did drop out of the Democratic primary. He now plans to run in the fall as an independent.

Robertson, the GOP chairman, said in his letter that the alleged promise of favors violates several federal laws.

"Mr. Marksberry's account could not be more clear: This constitutes a promise of private employment by, at the very least, Secretary Grimes' agents in exchange for her federal candidacy in violation of (the law)," Robertson wrote.