Louisville mayor's race becoming second round of 'fraud' blame game for Republicans, Democrats

10/21/2010 05:00 PM

The two major parties in Kentucky now have launched dueling legal complaints in the Louisville mayor’s race between Democratic candidate Greg Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner.

Both parties are asking for investigations into whether the other party’s candidate violated election laws for the way they got about getting endorsements. It’s against Kentucky law for a candidate to offer a job or promise influence in exchange for a vote or suppport.

On Thursday, Daniel Lodgson — chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party — filed a letter with the attorney general’s office asking for an investigation into Heiner’s campaign. It includes statements made by current Louisville Metro Council President Tom Owen in which he claims Heiner improperly obtained the endorsement of former Democratic mayoral candidate Tyler Allen.

Owen said Allen told him in a meeting after Allen’s endorsement that he would have “significant input” on transportation issues in a Heiner administration.

Allen and Heiner’s campaign denies any backroom dealmaking.

“I was not promised anything in exchange for my endorsement of Hal Heiner. I knew who I wanted to support and I wanted to make that known publicly and that’s what an endorsement is,” said Allen, who has been outspoken on the issue of the Louisville bridges projects.

Heiner’s spokesman Joe Burgan said Heiner “never offered or promised anything other than a change in the status quo, the status quo that is so desperately trying to elect Greg Fischer.”

“This is what happens when guilty people get caught.  They concoct outrageous stories without the first piece of proof,” Burgan said.

The Democrats’ complaint comes a day after Steve Robertson, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, sent a letter to Attorney General Jack Conway asking for a special prosecutor to investigate whether Fischer broke any election laws with e-mails between his campaign and that of independent candidate Jackie Green. Green dropped out of the race on Oct. 15 and endorsed Fischer.

Fischer’s campaign said Green would have “significant input,” on selecting the leader of a new department in the mayor’s office should Fischer get elected.

Allen said there are no parallels between his endorsement and Jackie Green’s endorsement. And he said the questions or investigations into Green’s endorsement are warranted.

“I do think it’s relevant to question what happened last week with one of three candidates dropping out, as public as he made it,” Allen said. “… It strikes me, I still have questions about it.”

Heiner’s campaign has accused Fischer of not being transparent in the deal with Green. On Wednesday, both the LEO newsweekly and Jake Payne at thevillevoice.com released e-mails from Green to supporters that detailed the conversations between himself and Fischer’s campaign.

In response to the those articles, Steve Roberston, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, asked Conway’s office for a probe, saying: “Kentucky law prohibits candidates from making a promise, agreement or contract with any person in order to secure that person’s vote, financial or moral support,” and that to do so was a felony.

In response to Robertson’s letter, Fischer said “there was no story,” in regards to wrong-doing.

Of course, that has implications in another race — Conway’s bid for U.S. Senate.  Robertson’s letter mentioned Conway’s duties as attorney general and association with Fischer, more so than the allegations being made by the Heiner camp.

“You have repeatedly said you will put the people of the Commonwealth ahead of partisan politics. This is your opportunity to prove it,” Robertson said in the letter. “I hope you will take this matter seriously and take immediate action. The voters of Louisville deserve to know the truth about Greg Fischer and any corrupt back-room deals he may have cut for political gain. Doing nothing about this situation or brushing it under the rug is simply unacceptable and a dereliction of your duties as Attorney General of Kentucky.”

Logsdon’s letter plays off some of Robertson’s statement:

“In a letter to your office from an official at the Republican Party of Kentucky, made public by that official, it was stated that ‘the voters of Louisville deserve to know the truth” about any ‘back-room’ deals,’ “ Logsdon letter says. “Speaking as the Chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, not only do I agree with this position, but I am eager to see it applied to the matter regarding Hal Heiner and Tyler Allen.”

It’s the second time this fall that partisans have battled each other with election-related complaints, after election finance complaints were made involving two major tickets for governor. In September, the parties went back and forth on allegations of campaign finance fraud between 2011 gubernatorial tickets of Republicans David Williams and Richie Farmer and Democrats Gov. Steve Beshear and out-going Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson.

- Kenny Colston


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