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.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

7 Comments

Comments

  • Dee W. wrote on September 16, 2016 11:46 PM :

    The envelopes could pass as an accident…maybe. However, feeding letters through the state postage machine? Nope…I think you know you aren’t buying those stamps at the store.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on September 17, 2016 08:11 AM :

    This is stealing taxpayers money to run your election. He even has the gall to misuse God.
    “Show me your ways Lord” is the line he uses to get votes. This is blasphemy, pray for him. A legislator can’t use the postage machine so Republican staff helped him with this theft. How many others did the staff assist? Identify all the thieves and find out if they prayed while printing and using the postage meter

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on September 17, 2016 08:14 AM :

    This is stealing taxpayers money to run your election. He even has the gall to misuse God.
    “Show me your ways Lord” is the line he uses to get votes. This is blasphemy, pray for him. A legislator can’t use the postage machine so Republican staff helped him with this theft. How many others did the staff assist? Identify all the thieves and find out if they prayed while printing and using the postage meter

  • Dee W. wrote on September 17, 2016 11:09 AM :

    Hmm…Cumberland Gap you actually raise a good point – it may be the first time this has happened! :-) The staff may have run the envelopes through the machine if he just dropped them into the outgoing mail bin – and since they were in official House envelopes they would never know they were improper mailings…so that’s why he may have used those envelopes. I guess he didn’t think someone on the receiving end would notice. Maybe he’s just so clueless he really didn’t know this was wrong, but that doesn’t qualify him to hold public office even if we take the best case scenario. Glad he’s now paid us back but he should be toast politically.

  • viewer wrote on September 18, 2016 01:41 PM :

    Good Sunday afternoon, friends. Some awful nice weather we are experiencing today. Hope you are out and about taking it all in. There are some threads that pop up here, on CN2, that I really try to avoid. Sometimes it is a conflict of interest. Sometimes I don’t like to be forced to call a spade a spade. This thread is one of those. After reading the comments below, in the comments section, I feel that I have to say something. So, here I go.

    I have known Rep. David Hale or known of him for about 30 years or so. He is a good, decent, honest man. I can’t say a negative thing about how he has lived his life or how he has treated his family and friends over the years. He is the correct choice in this race, over his opponent, James Davis.

    With that said, David Hale was wrong here. He needs to pay back every penny owed. The Ethics Commission should fine him $1,000, and he needs to pony up an additional $1,000 to give to charity- food banks, the Red Cross, etc. He needs to take out an ad, in Montgomery, Menifee, and Powell owning up to what he did. He needs to explain to his constituents what happened.

    Friends, leadership matters. Frankfort, for years, has been ran like the old Wild West. Just as David Hale was wrong here, you have to ask how was he allowed to do this? Where were the people to stop him from making a total fool of himself and our party? This is another self-inflicted wound.

    Over the years, the way Bobby Sherman ran the LRC was known to all in and around the capitol. The same can be said today, for the staff that Jeff Hoover has running his House minority office. I hear it every week. Someone going into Hoover’s office, in Frankfort, and not getting the response and action for their request. All of this has a cause and effect to it. All of this incompetence and lack of leadership comes back to bite us. These are fellow representatives, fellow employees, who are telling me this. Why is Hoover not listening? Why are Hoover and Stan Lee not answering these cries for change?

    LRC Director David Byerman has made a tremendous impact on the LRC and how it functions, in his short tenure. This is an example of what can happen, if we put the right people in these positions. It took a total breakdown to get Bobby Sherman out, when everyone knew how bad it was. This is why people don’t have trust in the government anymore. Simple acknowledgements, simple truths are so hard for these people to take the steps to change what isn’t working.

    Rudy Giuliani brought the crime statistics down in New York City, with a policy called “Broken Window Policing”. The theory behind this was, if there was a broken window in the neighborhood, there were bigger crimes being committed. The broken window was an indicator of more nefarious actions taking place. We need something similar today in state government. David Hale being allowed to abuse tax payers’ funds should only lead to taking a much wider view of who before has gotten by with this. Is this just the tip of the iceberg? I don’t know anything about this case, but I am assuming these letters were sent out through Hoover’s office, at the capitol. I’m sure, if David Hale was asked, he would have not gone through with it. It begs the question, what more has happened or is going on, that is a lot more costly than these campaign materials?

    The RICO statute allows the federal government to fine the guilty party 3 times the value of what they stole. This should also be used in state law, for when politicians get caught stealing tax payer funds. You get caught stealing x amount. You pay back 3x. That would make these leaders think twice before crossing the line. But, like we are seeing with Ritchie Farmer who is paying $25/month, our court systems have not seen fit to punish those in leadership as they would others down below on the food chain.

    The problems in our state ran government are piling up. Pensions, road funds, healthcare, education, higher education, justice system… It is just overwhelming. The root cause of this is the people we are electing. The people who are not getting involved but should be are staying on the sidelines. This race here between David Hale and James Davis, in truth, it doesn’t matter which one is sent to Frankfort. Neither is going to reinvent the wheel. Neither has the substance we are in dire need of. It isn’t just this race friends. Very few contests left to be decided are going to bring in the people we need. I can name you a handful of elections, with a change agent, but far too many the only thing left in doubt is whether they have a D or an R by their name.

    The contest down in Somerset to replace Sen. Girdler is what we need that I envision for real change to come to Frankfort. All 4 of those candidates vying to replace Sen. Chris Girdler would have brought wisdom, knowledge to the General Assembly. The only problem was that they were all running for the same seat. The public has to get involved with this government. Our government today is a disgrace and rotting from the head down. The viewer.

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on September 19, 2016 10:25 AM :

    Dee, we are not all naive. A lawmaker doesn’t write, stuff, and lick hundreds or thousands of “vote for me” or “God wants me to win” personal notes all alone. The Republican staff assisted and needs consequences. The rumor is the staff did this for four or five others. The handwriting on this note doesn’t match other notes. Now, if Republicans win the House they can say they stole taxpayer money/postage to win and it will be called Mailgate.

  • Dee W. wrote on September 19, 2016 09:48 PM :

    Well making sense didn’t last long for you. He can have that done off site and drop the envelopes into the outgoing mail bin. Mail machines also “lick” the envelopes – that technology has been around a good long while. “God wants me to win” also doesn’t appear anywhere either.

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