Conway ad blasts Mongiardo for travel expenses

FRANKFORT — Attorney General Jack Conway's Democratic campaign for U.S. Senate launched a TV ad Friday criticizing travel expenses of his chief rival, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo.

Kim Geveden, a spokesman for the Mongiardo campaign, noted that Conway trails in the polls and said Conway's "false negative attack on Lt. Governor Mongiardo's legitimate travels on behalf of Kentucky reeks of desperation."

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Sunday that Mongiardo has spent more than four times as much in taxpayer money on travel expenses as Conway since taking office in late 2007.

State records showed that Mongiardo billed the state $33,000 for trips, including conferences and visits across the state. The Kentucky Democratic Party reimbursed the state for one $4,000 trip. Also, it cost at least $23,600 more for state troopers assigned to Mongiardo's security detail to go with him.

Meanwhile, Conway charged taxpayers $7,247 for travel costs.

The Conway campaign ad highlights a promise by Mongiardo of frugality with state money, then accuses him of spending taxpayers' money on "fancy hotels, steak dinners, crème brûlée. Tens of thousands in expenses. On top of Mongiardo's $141,000 salary."

The Conway ad included the $30,000-a-year housing allowance for lieutenant governors as part of Mongiardo's salary.

The ad also said Mongiardo "even attended a Las Vegas convention on cosmetic surgery."

Geveden said Mongiardo's 2009 trip to Las Vegas "was in fact a 32-hour trip to speak to a national association of surgeons about Kentucky's leadership in e-health, modernizing delivery of medical information."

Mongiardo told the Herald-Leader last week that no state expenses were involved in the Las Vegas trip, but Geveden acknowledged Friday that the state did pay for Mongiardo's $755.39 airfare on Delta Airlines.

"All costs for the trip except for coach airfare were paid for by the sponsoring organization," Geveden said Friday.

Geveden said Conway's ad is "hypocrisy of silver spoon proportions."