Freshman GOP representative apologizes for using state postage, seal for campaign material
09/16/2016 09:29 PM
A first-term Republican in the state’s House of Representatives has apologized and says he will reimburse the Legislative Research Commission for postage after he sent cards emblazoned with the state’s seal soliciting votes in his 74th House District.
The mailings have sparked at least two complaints have been filed against Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, with the Legislative Ethics Commission.
Pure Politics obtained photos of one of the cards mailed by Hale on condition that the recipient remain unidentified, including a photo of the envelope with another state seal and Hale’s contact information on the back.
Lawmakers are prohibited from using public funds or the state’s seal in partisan political campaigns under state law.
Hale included his campaign card in the mailing, in which he says serving as the recipient’s state representative for two years “has been my honor.”
“I would greatly appreciate your vote and support in the November election,” the card reads.
What’s more, the photos obtained by Pure Politics show that postage for the mailing was paid by the Legislative Research Commission and was sent from Frankfort. Pure Politics independently verified that the postage metering number matches one used by LRC.
State law prohibits lawmakers from using public funds “for partisan political campaign activity,” a Class A misdemeanor, and from using the state seal on “campaign stationery or campaign literature,” an ethical misconduct violation.
Hale did not return a call seeking comment Friday, but in a statement through the Republican Party of Kentucky, he acknowledged making “a mistake, but it was an honest one.”
“The stationary was purchased at my own expense and I am writing a check to reimburse the state for the cost of the postage used,” Hale said. “I apologize for this mistake, I would never knowingly violate the law.”
The recipient filed a complaint with the ethics commission, also obtained by Pure Politics on condition of anonymity, this week.
“I believe that this campaign letter is in clear violation of KRS 6.731(6) as it uses the great seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and official legislative stationery for the purpose of soliciting votes for reelection,” the complaint reads. “In addition, it is clear from the metered postage that this mailing was sent from Frankfort, Kentucky and one can only assume that it was paid for using taxpayer money for private election purposes.”
Ann Ballard, former 14-year chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said she received a similar mailing from Hale on Sept. 8 and filed a complaint with the Legislative Ethics Commission on Tuesday.
Kara Daniel, counsel for the ethics commission, said she could neither confirm nor deny receipt of complaints against Hale.
Ballard said the card also included the state seal but was mailed via stamped postage rather than metered postage.
Ballard, who is backing Hale’s Democratic opponent, James Davis, said she thought Hale was trying to be coy in thanking her for her support in the card given her involvement with the state and local Democratic Party.
She called the mailing “unfair.”
“Everything ought to be above board and it ought to be even for both sides,” Ballard said in a phone interview Friday.
In a statement, Kentucky Democratic Party Chairwoman Sannie Overly said voters in the 74th House District “deserve better.”
“If these allegations are true, Rep. Hale has taken advantage of the hardworking taxpayers of the Commonwealth by illegally using their money to help support his campaign, and they should be outraged,” she said.
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