House Democratic leader gives caucus $100,000 from campaign account as parties jockey for House majority

10/24/2014 06:45 PM

The House Democratic Caucus Campaign Committee received a sizable boost from one of its leaders in the election cycle’s closing days, banking $100,000 from House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins’ campaign account last week.

Adkins told Pure Politics he hoped his six-figure contribution would add to the “energy and momentum” of Democratic House challengers and incumbents with the Nov. 4 elections 11 days away. He called the current crop of Democratic campaigns “the best organized races I’ve been involved in in my 27 years in the House.”

“I’m glad to be able to contribute and as I said glad to help our members as we are in competitive races across the state, but as I said they’re energized,” Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said in a phone interview Friday.

“Our members are energized, they’re motivated, they’re working hard. It’s the best group of candidates that have the fire in their belly to do what they need to do in their individual districts and their individuals races, and as a House Democratic caucus, we’re doing everything we can to assist and help and make sure that financially we’re able to compete in every shape, form and fashion to help our members get their message out and compete on the ground.”

Adkins’ $100,000 contribution represents more than one-fifth the caucus’ overall fundraising total of $488,085 from Dec. 1, 2012, through June 19, according to Kentucky Registry of Election Finance records. The majority floor leader also chipped in $2,500 of his own money to the caucus May 8, 2013, KREF records show.

Adkins said he consulted with KREF, legal counsel and his campaign treasurer about the legality of such a hefty donation to the caucus. Contributions are generally capped at $2,500 annually, but Adkins is able to exceed that since he’s unopposed in the election.

“Being majority floor leader, I feel like part of my responsibility not having a race and having money within my campaign, I’m in a position to be able to move part of that money into our races all across the state, and as I said I hope this adds to the energy, I hope it adds to the momentum that I feel like is in our districts across Kentucky,” he said.

Adkins had $217,481 in his 2014 primary account as of July 19, according to KREF. He made his contribution late last week, meaning it won’t show up until 30-day post-election reports are due from the campaigns and caucuses.

House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly told Pure Politics that Adkins is the only member of leadership to contribute in such a manner to the caucus, but he may not be alone in the waning days of the election cycle. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is the only other Democratic leader without opposition Nov. 4, and his 2014 primary campaign account has $55,043 on hand.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, did not return calls seeking comment for this report.

While Adkins’ $100,000 donation is significant as Democrats seek to retain control of the House, the act itself has precedence in this election cycle. Former Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway gave the Democratic caucus $10,000 from his campaign account May 5, 2013, days after he became head of the state’s higher education loan entities. On the Republican side, retiring Rep. Dwight Butler of Harned contributed $11,629 from his campaign account Nov. 15, and Mike Nemes, who’s running in the 49th House District, donated $4,080 from his campaign account for the 38th House District March 31, KREF records show.

Money isn’t the only factor in determining the fall legislative elections and, ultimately, the fate of the House. Democrats hold a 54-46 advantage on Republicans, but the GOP will need to pick up nine seats in order to gain a majority.

Adkins said he’s “confident” of his party’s chances thanks to the hard work of House Democratic leaders, the caucus, the Kentucky Democratic Party and Gov. Steve Beshear.

“The governor has been fully engaged along with the Democratic Party, so with all of that together I think we have prepared ourselves for success come Nov. 4,” Adkins said.

Beshear, who has stumped for candidates and headlined fundraisers in various House districts, also voiced optimism for Democrats’ chances to hold the House and thanked Adkins for his $100,000 contribution to boost their prospects.

“I think our incumbents will win, and I think we may pull some challengers over the line in the process because we’ve got just a great set of candidates,” Beshear said Thursday. “They’re highly qualified people, and they’re really running aggressive campaigns.

“Obviously we’ve got all this outside money coming in here into our House races. You know, you expect it now in these big statewide races, but we’ve got the Koch brothers and everybody else spending money to try to take over our state House of Representatives, and I’m very thankful to people like Rocky and others who are stepping up because of that and putting in more money so that we can make sure that the Democrats keep control of the House.”

Republicans are getting help from outside groups like Kentucky Rise, a federal political action committee formed by former U.S. ambassador Cathy Bailey, and New Direction Kentucky, a super PAC formed by GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner.

And Beshear isn’t the only governor to lend a hand in House races. Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who now hosts “Huckabee” on Fox News, is scheduled to headline a Turn Kentucky Red Rally for Kentucky Rise at Bowman Field Saturday.

Bailey, in a statement Friday, said Huckabee will attend a fundraiser for Kentucky Rise prior to the rally, which she expects will draw up to 400 attendees.

“As a former governor, Mike Huckabee understands all too well the importance of having members of your own party control both Chambers,” Bailey said in the statement. “The prospects are very great for flipping the House this election. I have never seen such a strong coordinated effort in the 35 years that I’ve been involved politics in the state of Kentucky like what’s happened this year.”

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.

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