Elections

Jack Conway discloses energy firm earnings

Conway
Conway

WASHINGTON — Since 2009, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Conway has accepted $263,500 in stock distribution payments from Kinder Morgan Energy, a Texas-based pipeline company that transports natural gas and petroleum products.

Attorney General Conway revealed a $157,500 payment in 2009 and a $106,000 payment in 2010 from Kinder Morgan on a mandatory financial disclosure form he filed with the secretary of the U.S. Senate on Aug. 12.

The report was due on May 17, but Conway requested and was granted an extension until mid-August.

"It is pretty sad to see Jack Conway lining his pockets with cash from a company made up of former Enron executives that lobby for cap and trade and against Kentucky coal," said Gary Howard, press secretary for Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul.

Kinder Morgan also employs more than 100 Kentuckians in the coal industry.

The disclosure form also shows Conway received a $300,000 purse from racehorse Stately Victor's win in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland in April, a salary so far this year of $72,360 from the state and other investment income of $26,400 to $84,500. The report only requires Conway to list ranges on most of his income and debts.

He listed a loan of $1 million to $5 million from a margin account at Hilliard Lyons as his only liability.

Conway also reported earning a salary of $100,038.40 in 2009.

During the run-up to the May 18 primary, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo filed a complaint against Conway with the state's Executive Branch Ethics Commission that noted Conway's ownership of up to $5 million of Kinder Morgan stock.

As attorney general, Conway must advocate on behalf of residential ratepayers when utility companies seek a rate increase from the state Public Service Commission. Conway's office agreed in June 2009 to a $5.9 million rate increase for Atmos Energy, which does business with Kinder Morgan.

The complaint, which also noted contributions to Conway's campaign from various utility companies, was later dismissed after the ethics panel concluded campaign contributions aren't considered gifts under the ethics code. As a result, the commission did not have jurisdiction to consider the complaint, it said.

Conway's campaign has previously said he has investments worth $1 million to $5 million with Kinder Morgan and made them beginning in February 2007 from money earned in the private sector before he became attorney general in January 2008.

Paul also has raised questions about Conway's campaign contributions from utility companies.

"We'd like him to release how much money he got from utility companies on cases that he was also overseeing," Paul told Lexington radio station WLAP 630-AM earlier this year. "We think he might have breached American Bar Association guidelines and may have broken the law. He took contributions from utility companies that he was also overseeing their rate cases. That sort of sounds like legalized extortion to me."

In the past, Conway has dismissed such allegations and has said he has saved taxpayers more than $100 million by challenging various requests for rate increases.

It took Conway the better part of a year to update his personal finance record with the secretary of the Senate — a requirement of candidates and elected officials seeking federal office. Conway also corrected several errors having to do with listing income in the incorrect place on the form.

The Conway campaign attributed the delay in submitting the form to the deadline, which fell one day before the state's May 18 primary.

"We wanted to be absolutely certain we were doing our due diligence for the people of Kentucky," said Allison Haley, Conway's spokeswoman.

Questions about personal finances and delays in filing disclosure forms have plagued both senate candidates this campaign season.

Both Paul and Conway filed personal financial disclosures last fall, as required by federal guidelines, but both candidates missed the May 17 deadline to update their information.

After the Herald-Leader asked the Paul campaign about missing the deadline, the campaign quickly filed an updated report, which also corrected previous mistakes.

Candidates missing the filing deadline face a $200 late filing fee and are contacted by the Senate Ethics Committee. Repeated refusals to file the personal financial report can result in a $10,000 fine and possible prosecution for federal ethics violations, although such harsh measures are a rarity.

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