RPK launches website in 12th House District attacking Jim Townsend over expenses
10/14/2016 11:44 AM
The Republican Party of Kentucky has launched a website alleging 12th House District Democratic challenger Jim Townsend has wasted taxpayer dollars traveling the state and Europe.
The RPK is casting the former Webster County judge-executive and retired farmer as “Travelin’ Jim Townsend” on a website they have created. The GOP is using digital ads targeted at voters in the district to redirect them to the website.
“While Jim Townsend stayed at 5 star hotels at taxpayer expense, the people of Webster County suffered,” RPK Spokesperson Tres Watson said. “We don’t need self-serving politicians like Jim Townsend in Frankfort.”
Among the allegations of wasting taxpayer dollars on travel is a trip to Europe on taxpayer’s expense.
In an interview with Pure Politics, Townsend did not dispute the trip which he said was to the Czech Republic for the Green River Area Development District, where he served as an executive board member and past chairman.
The trip to the Czech Republic came as part of a trip to Olomouc, the first sister city of Owensboro and the fourth-largest city in the Czech Republic with a population of around 100,000. Townsend said he went to the country for about a week to learn about agriculture in the region.
On the website, RPK says Townsend “racked up more than $80,000 in hotels, mileage and meals over the last 4 years – all paid for by taxpayers.” According to the RPK, they tallied expenses from all the entities Townsend was working with to get to that tabulation.
Townsend says by his estimates RPK missed the mark in calculating his expenses, which he said should be around $40,000 and often picked up by the organizations he was representing.
A majority of Townsend’s travel has been to Frankfort, but he also traveled to Louisville and Lexington for meetings with various other organizations he has served, he said. The Dixon Democrat is a former chairman for the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association and a board member and past president of the Kentucky Association of Counties.
“You cannot do what you need to do sitting in your office in Webster County,” he told Pure Politics in a phone interview Friday. “You have to go to Frankfort. You have to go to Washington to be able to be known well enough to be able to gain access to the things you need in you county.
“I don’t deny any of the conferences because training was required. At least 40 hours per year.”
The RPK also claims on the website that Townsend has worked for the campaign of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a claim the former judge executive vehemently denies.
Pure Politics requested back up for the claim from RPK, which came in the form of a May 18, 2008, listing of the Hillary Clinton primary organization in Kentucky led by former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan.
In the listing under a Kentucky Steering Committee subhead in the 1st Congressional District. Townsend’s name appears alongside nearly every other local elected official in the district.
“I didn’t have anything at all to do with that,” he said, adding it’s possible his name had been added without his knowledge. “I was not part of that.”
When asked if the travel and conferences were beneficial to the taxpayers he represented, he responded without hesitation with a single word: “Absolutely.”
Townsend is challenging former Democrat turned Republican Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, in the Nov. 8 election.
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