Campaign bus controversy continues as Lundergan's company responds to an online inquiry "don't do transportation"

08/20/2014 12:59 PM

UPDATED: Signature Special Event Services says the Grimes campaign bus is being leased through the company and added they do have vehicles that can be rented, contrary to an initial inquiry they say their Baltimore office replied to.

The he said, she said of the legal questions over how the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is renting her 45-foot campaign bus continued Wednesday as companies cited by the Grimes campaign take issue with the numbers and an inquiry through the quote request section of Jerry Lundergan’s business’ website says they do not provide transportation services.

Signature Special Events Services, the company owned by Mr. Lundergan, said in an email request the company does not provide any type of transportation services to ordinary customers, according to a response from the company to an online request for a quote.

However, after multiple phone calls and emails from Pure Politics, the company said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon the bus in question is being leased through the company and that they do have some other vehicles that can be rented to the public but did not give rates.

The online request submitted Tuesday asked about transportation services for an event in the Lexington area that would require the transportation of around ten people to and from the event over a 48-hour period.

In response to the online request Tuesday for a quote for event transportation, the company replied in an email by simply stating “we do not do transportation.”

During the phone interview with Pure Politics, the corporate office said the inquiry—which was sent through the contact tab on the business website— went to the Baltimore office of the company, which only does equipment. The corporate office said they have around six vehicles that are used by employees and can be rented by others.

The corporate office, however, refused to say how many offices the company has around the country and why the inquiry tab on the website of the Lexington based business went to a Baltimore office after saying “the story just came through” mid-phone conversation and then saying they would not answer any more questions.

The online request form can be seen here: Signature Special Event Request.pdf

Another email to Pure Politics after the phone conversations with the company also said they did not provide transportation services but this time specified “out of the Baltimore location.”

Along with the potential fact that the company does not offer transportation services to any other customers, some are raising questions about the validity behind the ways the Grimes campaign landed on a rate by speaking to other bus companies, some of which only sell buses but do not rent them.

In an interview with the Associated Press , the Vice President of Star Coaches Inc — one of the companies used to make the estimate based on information on their website—said that the $456 rate paid by the campaign is a “sweetheart deal” because he would have charged the campaign every day regardless of whether or not the bus was used.

“If they’re paying 11 grand to have that bus wrapped for 266 days and use it however many days they want to use it? That’s a sweetheart deal,” Star Coach VP Dan Neuen told the AP.

The wrapping the company representative references is the photo of Grimes and text seen across the bus. Typically, a bus can be wrapped with a campaign logo and then removed once the candidate is done with the vehicle—signalling no one else could use the bus until then.

As the original Politico story on the topic pointed out, the Grimes campaign paid Signature Special Events Services $5,500 to wrap the bus with the logo—which is not part of the $10,939 amount paid for the bus rental and fuel costs over the past year.

In a phone interview with Pure Politics Wednesday, a representative for Digital EFX Wraps in Louisville said the prices at their company vary from around $7,000-$14,000 for how much it costs to get a campaign bus wrapped. But the representative told Pure Politics that wrapping a 45-foot bus, like the one Grimes is renting, would cost closer to the $14,000 range.

When asked whether or not someone could have that size bus wrapped for around $5,000, the representative said it could be possible if a less expensive material is used that is normally meant for wraps lasting less than a year. Grimes bus was first seen wrapped at her July launch last year.

“In case anyone had any doubt Alison Lundergan Grimes was getting a sweetheart deal from her father’s business on her bus, now the very company she used to justify her actions says she is receiving a ‘sweetheart deal,’” McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. “There are a ton of unanswered questions about the role her family’s corporate holdings have in her campaign that Kentuckians deserve answers to immediately.”

Jacqueline Pitts

Jacqueline Pitts is the producer of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. In addition to booking guests and pulling all of the information from the field together into a half-hour show, Jacqueline is also a regular contributor to “The Grind.” That’s a weekly segment with the cn|2 political staff to take a closer look at some of the most important, most interesting and often least talked about happenings in Kentucky politics. Jacqueline is from Nashville, but she’s a proud Western Kentucky University graduate. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqueline_cn2. She can be reached at 502-792-1114 or jacqueline.pitts@twcnews.com.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.