RPK files complaint against Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate

10/15/2015 11:22 AM

UPDATED: The Republican Party of Kentucky has filed a complaint against Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Jean Marie Lawson Spann alleging the candidate’s radio program and corporate sponsorship constitutes a non-reported campaign donation.

The eight page complaint filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance states that Jean Marie Lawson Spann and her father Sam Lawson have been illegally using Lawson Marketing, Inc. and its resources to help the campaign.

“Jean-Marie Lawson Spann and her dad have spent the summer blatantly disregarding Kentucky campaign finance laws and using their radio show to illegally promote her corporate sponsored campaign,” said Mike Biagi, Executive Director of the RPK.

The complaint filed with the Registry of Election Finance on Thursday morning provides transcripts from the ‘Jean Marie Ag Show,’ a weekly radio show broadcast in Glasgow and Bowling Green, from this summer featuring Sam Lawson detailing Jean Marie’s activities on the campaign trail in her bid for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture.

Grace Wise, Communications Director for Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, said that the campaign is “confidant we have complied with all laws, and after KREF looks into the matter they will say the same.”

“This is a superficial political attack from a desperate Ryan Quarles to distract voters from his lack of qualifications,” Wise said. “He does not want the focus to be on his lack of agribusiness experience. He says he is a farmer but has no farm. He says he is a lawyer but he has no clients.”

“His allegation is not worth the paper it was filed on,” Wise continued. “Their claim is completely without merit.”

One example listed in the complaint features a section from the Sept. 21 episode of the radio program where Sam Lawson details his daughter’s week on the campaign trail visiting organized labor, senior citizens and Constitution Day.

Lawson Spann responds to the verbal campaign road map with an “ag-mazing fact” and promise to voters.

“Yes dad, thanks so much. And now for the Jean-Marie ag-mazing fact of the day. Are you ready? This week is farm safety week. I have pledged to grow the Kentucky Department of Agriculture safety department under Dale Dopson to reduce accidents and save lives in a very unsafe occupation, farming. Join us as we celebrate farm safety week. Look forward each week to the ag-mazing,” according to the transcript sent to KREF.

Another example in the complaint features remarks from the Aug. 3 show, when Sam Lawson details a
meet-and-greet in Graves County saying “they all pledged their support for your campaign.”

Sam Lawson and Jean-Marie Lawson Spann currently serve as President and Vice-President of Lawson Marketing, Inc. and the RPK says the free air time from the show — which is sponsored by the company — represents a violation of Kentucky’s campaign finance laws.

“Each time Lawson Marketing, Inc.’s corporate officers used corporate resources to promote and support the candidacy of Ms. Spann, the corporation and Ms. Spann’s campaign violated this law,” the filing says.

“Every Kentuckian should be concerned by the fact that the Lawsons have so callously disregarded the law in a desperate attempt to gain power. This is a very serious issue and we urge the Registry to act quickly to investigate these allegations,” Biagi said in a release sent to Pure Politics. “While I realize the wheels of justice turn slowly, in the meantime, it’s important that the voters of Kentucky know about Mrs. Lawson Spann’s actions that should disqualify her from office.”

Lawson Spann faces Republican nominee Ryan Quarles in the Nov. 3 election.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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