Weddles found a way to fund Beshear even as campaign contributions were returned

by Tom Loftus, Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT – As the Kentucky Democratic Party and Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign were refunding the excess campaign contributions of London Mayor Randall Weddle last spring, Mayor Weddle and his wife found a different avenue for making additional donations to boost Beshear’s reelection chances.

Weddle, a Republican, and his wife Victoria contributed $75,000 to the Democratic Governors Association, the Washington-based group that is funding an independent advertising campaign promoting Beshear and attacking his Republican opponent in the November election, Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

A semi-annual disclosure report filed Monday by the Democratic Governors Association with the Internal Revenue Service lists Randall Weddle as giving $25,000 and Victoria Weddle as giving $50,000 on May 10.

London Mayor Randall Weddle

The association is dedicated to electing Democrats as governor in all states and has a national donor base. This year only three states have elections for governor. And the new report filed by the DGA has a large number of Kentucky donors because Kentucky’s race for governor is considered to be the most competitive of the three.

The disclosure report filed by the DGA itemizes more than $24.5 million in contributions during the first six months of this year.

In April the Kentucky Lantern reported that the largest group of reported donors to the Kentucky Democratic Party and the Beshear campaign between late 2021 and the end of 2022 was composed of Weddle’s family members, employees and close business associates. Together, they gave well over $300,000 to Beshear and the party. None of these donors had ever before made a large political contribution.

Initially, the party and Beshear campaign defended the donations. But in June the Beshear campaign and party announced it was refunding $202,000 in donations because it was all given on a credit card belonging to Randall and Victoria Weddle.

Eric Hyers, manager of the Beshear campaign, said Weddle told the campaign about the excess donations being donated on his credit card, and the campaign immediately reported this to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, which advised that the donations be refunded to Weddle’s credit card. This occurred in late April and early May, before the May 10 date of the Weddles’ $75,000 in contributions to the Democratic Governor’s Association.

State and federal laws limit how much any person can contribute to a candidate’s campaign committee or to a state political party. (The limit is $2,100 per election to a candidate committee and $15,000 per year to a state political party.)

Cameron’s attorney general’s office, however, is blocked from investigating the contributions of the Weddle group by an opinion of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission which says that a sitting attorney general can not investigate the campaign of a candidate who he or she happens to be running against. 

Instead, Cameron’s office has asked the FBI to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Weddle contributions.

The Democratic Governors Association is allowed to take contributions of unlimited amounts. And through June 30 this year it has given more than $3 million to fund a Super PAC — Defending Bluegrass Values — that began a broad television campaign attacking Cameron soon after the May primary elections.

Super PACs are also allowed to accept contributions of unlimited amounts, but they are not permitted to coordinate their advocacy campaigns with the candidates they support.

Here is a list of the other major Kentucky donors to the DGA between Jan. 1 and June 30:

Douglas Asher II, Harlan, owner of Asher Law, $15,000

Douglas E. Asher Sr., Wallins Creek, $15,000

ATS Construction, Lexington, $16,000

Bizzack, Lexington, $18,500

Todd Case, Louisa, Todd Case Trucking, $15,000

Churchill Downs, Louisville, $25,000

Jack Dulworth, Louisville, Dulworth Group, $15,000

Janet Edmiston, Murray, retired, $25,000

Frost Brown Todd PAC, Florence, $7,100

Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development, $12,500

HealthTech Solutions, Frankfort, $15,000

Houchens PAC, Louisville, $10,000

Humana Inc., Louisville, $100,000

Jim Gray, Lexington, state government official, $15,000

JYB3 Group, Frankfort, $12,500

R.M. Johnson Holding Co., Lexington, $5,000

Lexington Trots Breeders Assn., Lexington, $100,000

Lexington Quarry Co., Nicholasville, $15,000

Limestone Farms LLC, Georgetown, $5,000

London Valu-Rite Pharmacy, Louisa, $50,000

MBM Management LLC, Ashland, $15,000

Archie Marr, Corbin, CPA, $10,000

Gregory May, Pikeville, Utility Management Group COO, $10,000

John McConnell, Murray, McConnell Insurance, $15,000

Elizabeth McCoy, Hopkinsville, CEO of Planters Bank, $9,000

Hal McCoy, Hopkinsville, MED Properties, $9,000

John Moore, CEO of Atria Management Company, $25,000

McKinnley Morgan, London, attorney, $7,000

Pilgrim Energy, Pikeville, $15,000

ResCare Inc., Louisville, $125,000

Sazerac Company, Louisville, $25,000

Sir Barton Place, LLC, Lexington, $16,000

Sword Performance, Lexington, $5,000

The Allen Company, Lexington, $15,000

Principles, LLC, Mount Sterling, $25,000

Vitality Dx, LLC, Louisville, $10,000

Douglas L. Wilburn, Lexington, $25,000

Kentucky Lantern is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kentucky Lantern maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jamie Lucke for questions: Follow Kentucky Lantern on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: A screenshot from Governor Andy Beshear’s YouTube channel shows him handing a large check to London Mayor Randle Weedle in recognition of a state grant the City of London received.