Who Are Kentucky’s ‘Power Players’ In Financing Elections?

Kentucky’s top 10 “power players” in financing election campaigns are mostly Republican Party supporters who dabble heavily in national politics and races in states other than their own.

The 10 biggest political donors gave $4.2 million between them from the beginning of 2011 to this past June 30, according to data compiled and analyzed by the Investigative News Network for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Campaign financing has accelerated since then and continued to do so leading up to Tuesday’s elections. Kentuckians are right in the swing of that, and some are opening their wallets big-time for their political favorites.

Since individual contributions to candidates are capped, the biggest sums are going to political action committees, fund-raising committees and political parties, according to the data, which was provided by the National Institute for Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics.

For instance, Public Storage founder B. Wayne Hughes Sr. is Kentucky’s top power player by virtue of his $1.5 million gift to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove.

Christy Brown of Louisville gave $250,000 to the Florida Democratic Party, the same amount that Richard Masson of Versailles gave the libertarian Purple PAC.

Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. gave $125,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, the super PAC supporting Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

Hughes, Masson and Jones are strong backers of Republicans, along with Lexington businessman Terry Forcht and his wife Marion, Covington business executive Robert Kohlhepp, Louisville businessman James Patterson and businessman James Booth of Lovely, Ky.

Brown is one of the few power players in the Democratic camp. Kindred Healthcare CEO Paul Diaz tilts Democratic, but has thrown a five-figure amount to the Republican Party and $7,700 to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. Diaz has also given $2,700 to McConnell, nothing to challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. Even the Forchts have donated at least $39,000 to various Democratic Party vehicles. The 10 power players combined contributions constitute about 7.1 percent of the $59.7 million given by all individual Kentuckians from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2014.

You can see a breakdown of Kentucky’s top 10 on the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting’s website.

Reporter James McNair discusses Kentucky’s top 10 “power players” in election financing

Reporter James McNair can be reached at jmcnair@kycir.org or (502) 814-6543.

This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

James McNair

James McNair is a veteran investigative reporter who specializes in business and finance issues.