Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes were hit Friday with allegations of federal ethics and campaign finance violations by each other’s respective political parties.
The state Democratic Party landed the first punch Friday afternoon, calling for an ethics investigation into McConnell after the National Journal reported that the senator hosted the chief executive of Delta Air Lines, Rick Anderson, for breakfast in the exclusive Senate Dinning Room. Almost a week after dining with McConnell, Anderson and his wife provided the GOP leader’s political operation with a $10,000 donation.
McConnell defended the contribution to reporters on Thursday, saying he and Anderson have been longtime friends. But Democrats accuse the GOP leader of exchanging his public office for campaign cash.
“It’s not a coincidence that just days after treating a corporate bigwig to a meal in the U.S. Senate dining room, Mitch McConnell was repaid with $10,000 to fund his rusted Washington campaign,” Democratic Chair Dan Logsdon said in a released statement. “These reports are serious, erode the public trust, and if true, his actions could be illegal.”
Logsdon said state Democrats plan to file a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to look into whether McConnell has violated federal law.
“Without a full ethics investigation into this matter, the senator’s constituents are right to remain skeptical,” Logsdon said. “After 30 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell seems to forget all too often that he works for the taxpayers of Kentucky, not Fortune 500 CEOs.”
Minutes after the Democratic statement was released, the state Republican Party announced that the filed a complaint against Grimes with the Federal Elections Commission on Friday morning.
The state Republican Party alleges that Grimes’ campaign received an illegal in-kind contribution. The charge stems from reports that she received an unfair rental discount for her 45-foot-long campaign bus from Signature Special Event Services, a company owned by her father, Jerry Lundergan.
The GOP complaint said Lundergan’s company does not offer such transportation services in its normal business operations. It also alleged that Grimes received a rate well below the “usual and normal charge” for bus rentals.
From the GOP’s complaint:
“Even if Signature Special Events were to provide any transportation services to others who are not Alison Lundergan Grimes, it is exceedingly unlikely that SSES would provide transportation services to the extent that they provide those services to the Grimes Campaign and certainly not at the same rate. The Grimes Campaign has made the luxury motor coach a central feature and asset of their campaign. Without constant access to this luxury touring motor coach, Alison Lundergan Grimes and her campaign would have to pay for the cost of other transportation and accommodations just as any other person would.”
A Grimes campaign spokesperson said the campaign is in compliance with FEC rules and called the story a “political stunt” by McConnell.
Here’s the complaint: