Late chairman of Democratic super PAC resigns after group goes after Republican he supported

11/04/2016 11:32 AM

The former chairman of a Democratic super PAC stepped down after the group entered the 33rd House District race against a Republican he supported.

Hopkinsville attorney Doug Myers, who died Sunday, resigned as chairman of Kentucky Family Values on Oct. 14 after learning that Louisville attorney Jason Nemes was a target of the group, largely financed by labor and teachers’ unions.

Kentucky Registry of Election Finance records show Myers contributed $200 to Nemes on May 24.

“Jason is a friend of mine who I supported in his primary,” Myers wrote in an email to the super PAC’s senior advisor, David Contarino, obtained by Pure Politics. “I can not be a party to this. Please file all appropriate paperwork showing my resignation.”

Contarino, who is listed in KREF records as the chairman of Kentucky Family Values, declined to discuss Myers’ decision out of respect of his recent passing.

He said he appreciated Myers’ “service and his support for these years that he’s worked for us.”

“Doug was a terrific chairman, and he served us well,” Contarino said in an interview with Pure Politics.

The super PAC is going door-to-door as part of its push opposing Nemes’ in his race against Democrat Rob Walker. The Republican knocked off longtime state Rep. Ron Crimm by more than 17 points in the May 17 primary.

Contarino called Nemes a “carpetbagger” after moving to the district in northeastern Jefferson County and part of Oldham County less than a month before the one-year residency requirement to run in the district, and he also criticized his tenure as director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

“He has sort of a checkered past with respect to his work at the Administrative Office of the Courts, and Walker’s a local business guy, a member of the church, lived here for a long time, is much closer connected to the community,” Contarino said, noting the super PACs internals show a competitive race in the 33rd, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 18,170 to 17,187.

“It looked like a good opportunity for a guy who’s more representative of the district.”

Nemes declined to address Contarino’s remarks.

“I’m not going to respond to any of their stuff,” he told Pure Politics. “They’re blatant lies. What I’m going to do is stay focused on a positive campaign on the issues that move Kentucky forward, most importantly bringing much-needed job-creating policies to Kentucky and getting the corruption out of Frankfort.”

While Nemes bought a home in the district in October and moved from the 34th House District, Jefferson County Clerk records show Walker purchased his residence there months earlier, moving from the 28th House District in southwestern Jefferson County. His business, Walker Wallace PLC, isn’t far from his former residence.

Deeds filed with the clerk’s office show Walker bought his home on Mackinaw Drive April 13, 2015, six months before Nemes closed on his house on Gleneagle Place Oct. 15, 2015.

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, who hired Nemes as a law clerk in 2004 before promoting him to chief of staff and later AOC director, defended his former subordinate’s work performance.

Lambert called attacks against Nemes’ time in the court system “completely bogus” and said he was “a superb employee.”

“In all of the positions he held with me, the quality of his work was outstanding,” Lambert said. “… I have never known a finer, more honest, more honorable man than Jason Nemes.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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