RGA lays groundwork to form committee, pump money into Kentucky

04/29/2011 09:20 AM

The Republican Governors Association cleared a first hurdle to form a well-funded “unauthorized campaign committee” in Kentucky to air ads in the fall governors race.

On Monday, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance issued an advisory opinion in response to an inquiry by the RGA’s general counsel, Michael G. Adams, who used to work as deputy general counsel for former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Adams had asked whether the RGA could transfer funds from the RGA — which is a tax-exempt group set up under section 527 of the IRS code — to an affiliated committee in Kentucky. Otherwise, the RGA would have to start from scratch and raise money by adhering to Kentucky’s disclosure guidelines and donation limits of $1,000 per person.

The registry responded in its April 25 opinion that the transfer from the RGA’s coffers would be permitted.

“So long as the RGA’s current fundraising efforts do not include solicitations of funds for independent expenditures to b segregated for use in Kentucky elections, the RGA may establish its unauthorized campaign committee in Kentucky by an initial transfer of RGA general treasury funds,” the opinion said.

Any future funds raised specifically for a Kentucky committee would require the campaign to disclose those donors, the opinion said.

Mike Schrimpf, communications director for the RGA, said the committee for Kentucky has not yet been formed.

“We are reassured by the opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean one thing or another as to what we may do,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “We don’t really discuss our strategy.”

Kentucky Republicans will choose their nominee in the May 17 primary. Senate President David Williams, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett are vying for that nomination.

The winner faces Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in the November election.

- Ryan Alessi

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