Auditor candidates can't wait to debate, exchange barbs over their credentials before KET forum

10/10/2011 04:34 PM

Hours before their debate on Kentucky Educational Television, candidates for state auditor John Kemper, a Republican, and Adam Edelen, a Democrat, traded shots over their credentials for the office.

First, Kemper’s campaign sent an e-mail to supporters this morning asking them to call KET to submit questions.

Among those questions was whether or not Edelen, the former chief of staff to Gov. Steve Beshear, could be an “independent” auditor if Beshear is re-elected. Another question the Kemper campaign encouraged supporters to call and suggest to KET was whether or not Edelen could be fair, having received campaign donations from state and local government employees.

One of the auditor’s largest responsibilities is auditing state and local governments.

Shortly afterward, Kemper’s campaign sent out a news release saying Edelen has received at least $47,399 from 129 donors whom the auditor might have to check on. Those include state employees and local elected officials. Those totals came from primary campaign finance filings. The candidates’ first filings for the general election are due by the end of Wednesday.

In that release, Kemper called for Edelen to return those donations, saying those they prevented Edelen from being “independent” like state law requires.

“Accepting nearly $50,000 in campaign cash from the very group of individuals who are subject to official oversight by the state auditor is a breach of the public trust,” Kemper said in a statement. “And every one of those donations should be returned immediately.”

Pure Politics put the conflict of interest question to Edelen last December, who responded by saying that he wouldn’t let those donations sway him or his office, if elected. (4:10 mark of video in link.)

Kemper also acknowledged to Pure Politics last month that he has accepted campaign donations from those who would be under the auditor’s microscope as well. (9:00 minute mark of video).

Kemper said the big difference is that Edelen accepted a larger percentage from such donors than he has.

Edelen’s campaign responded by saying Kemper is using diversionary tactics to deflect attention from his personal financial troubles.

“John Kemper will do anything to distract voters from the fact that after several bankruptcies and hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills and property taxes, he is fundamentally unfit to be auditor,” Edelen said in a statement.

Kemper, a Lexington developer, is under bankruptcy protection after sinking his money into his business after the real estate market dried up.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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