Republican Party of Kentucky rakes in more corporate money for building fund
2017 Kentucky law allows unlimited and corporate contributions to improve political parties’ headquarters
BY: TOM LOFTUS, KENTUCKY LANTERN
FRANKFORT, KY – The Republican Party of Kentucky’s push to raise large corporate donations to pay for the renovation and expansion of its headquarters took in another $722,000 during the first quarter of 2023.
The largest donor was NWO Resources, of Greenwood Village, Colorado, which gave $500,000 on Feb. 6, according to a report filed last week by the Republican Party of Kentucky Building Fund with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Other donors were: AT&T, of St. Louis, $100,000; Microsoft Corporation, of Reno, $100,000; and The Cincinnati Insurance Co., of Cincinnati, $22,041.
State and federal law sets limits on how much a person or political action committee can give — and corporations are prohibited from giving — to most political committees. But part of a campaign finance bill passed by the General Assembly in 2017 allowed each party to establish a building fund that can accept contributions of unlimited amounts. It also allowed the building funds to accept contributions from corporations.
The election registry website says that money in a party’s building fund “may be used for expenditures related to the purchase, construction, maintenance, renovation, and repair of the state executive committee’s main headquarters facility.”
In late 2022, the GOP building fund raised a stunning $1.65 million in corporation donations, with $1 million of that coming from the drug maker Pfizer, Inc.
Sean Southard, the party’s spokesman, said in January that the money was being raised for renovation and expansion of the party’s Frankfort headquarters, which is named “The Mitch McConnell Building” in honor of Kentucky’s senior senator.
In response to the latest filing by the building fund, Southard released a statement Monday that said, “We are following both state and federal law and these funds can only be used for certain expenditures as prescribed by law. They cannot be used to do anything to elect or defeat candidates.”
Southard said he could not give details of the upcoming renovation because “we are still in the early stages of planning the expansion.”
NWO Resources did not immediately respond to a phone call and an email seeking comment on why it made the big contribution. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission describes NWO as “a closely held holding company that owns interests in a gas utility company.”
NWO Resources does not have any lobbying presence in Kentucky, according to websites of the executive and legislative branch ethics commissions.
FEC records show that last September NWO Resources gave $250,000 to Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC that supports Republicans running for the U.S. Senate and run by close associates of McConnell. NWO also gave $200,000 last fall to Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that supports Republicans running for the U.S. House.
The contributions of the first three months of this year boosted the cash balance of the GOP’s building fund to $2.4 million as of March 31. That could pay for a significant construction project for the GOP’s headquarters property in Frankfort which (including an adjacent vacant lot) is currently valued for tax purposes by the Franklin County property valuation administrator at $635,000.
The Kentucky Democratic Party’s building fund reported no large donations during the recent quarter, but reported having a balance of $351,000 as of March 31.
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