Politics & Government

Grand jury indicts Kentucky lawmaker on felony campaign-finance charges

Ben Waide, District 10 State Representative. LRC Photo
Ben Waide, District 10 State Representative. LRC Photo

State Rep. Forrest "Ben" Waide, R-Madisonville, was indicted Tuesday by a Franklin County grand jury on felony campaign-finance charges.

Waide, 51, is charged with two crimes — taking campaign money from a corporation and misspending campaign money. Each is a Class D felony that could bring up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, said Attorney General Jack Conway's office, which is prosecuting.

Waide is scheduled for arraignment Aug. 29 in Franklin Circuit Court. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but his attorney, William Deatherage, called the charges "politically motivated."

"The only thing we're going to say is Ben Waide strongly maintains his innocence," Deatherage said.

According to a lawsuit filed last year, Waide allegedly diverted corporate money from a Madisonville physical therapy firm he co-owned with two other men. The lawmaker's ex-partners said Waide used the money without their permission to pay for campaign expenses and his legislative trips to the state Capitol in Frankfort, although taxpayers reimburse him nearly $17,000 every year for his legislative mileage, meals and hotel rooms, according to public records.

The final sum in dispute in the lawsuit could exceed $200,000, taken from the corporation from 2006 to 2013, the partners said at the time.

The lawsuit led to a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, which launched the attorney general's investigation.

Waide was elected to the General Assembly in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. After the House redistricting plan last year pitted him against another incumbent Republican, Waide announced he would run this year for Hopkins County judge-executive.