Williams' father-in-law Terry Stephens says he is funding Restoring America

10/19/2011 02:24 PM

The father-in-law of Republican candidate for governor David Williams acknowledged in an email to supporters on Wednesday that he has donated to the Republican group Restoring America.

Terry Stephens said he gave money for ads so far that have criticized Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and have been supportive of Williams. The group has collected more than $1.365 million so far.

Stephens did not explicitly say how much money he has given, but Restoring America’s amended report to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on Wednesday shows that Stephens is gave the $1.365 million through Oct. 7, according to the report.

In his statement, Stephens said he felt it was important to provide the money to counter Democrats and liberals. He added that he would “refuse to allow the Democratic Party and their lawyers to silence my voice.”

“I trust Restoring America, Inc. to support conservative causes. Restoring America, Inc. did not direct any contributions to particular elections, and neither it nor I coordinated my free speech with any candidate or campaign, and I will continue my
support of Restoring America or any other organization that helps loosen the grip of moral decay on our state and our nation,” Stephens said in the message.

That acknowledgment ends a mystery of who has funded the outside Republican group. It also could help resolve this week’s legal wrangling that prompted a Franklin Circuit judge to issue a restraining order barring Restoring America from continuing to air the ads because it hadn’t disclosed individuals who contributed to it.

The Kentucky Democratic Party successfully argued for a restraining order on Monday to block the ads on the grounds that Restoring America violated campaign finance laws by not disclosing its donors.

Restoring America initially filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance that its funding came from a non-profit corporation, Restoring America Inc., set up last month under the section 527 of the IRS code.

On Wednesday, the group sent a letter to some TV stations asking them to resume airing the advertisements, as first reported by the Herald-Leader.

As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, however, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance had not received an updated report naming Stephens — or anyone else — as the group’s benefactor.

Stephens is the father of Williams’ wife, Robyn Williams. And Stephens is president of Stephens Pipe & Steel in Russell Springs. Earlier in the election cycle, Stephens gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which ran ads supporting Williams in July. But the RGA soon after abandoned Kentucky to get involved in the West Virginia governor’s race.

Stephens said in the email that there has been no coordination with any candidate.

But the Democrats claimed in its request for a restraining order on Monday that it raises questions about coordination between Stephens and Williams if Stephens is funding the outside group.

Jennifer Moore, attorney for the Democratic Party, said she specifically questions whether there is strategic coordination considering Stephens held a fundraiser for Williams’ campaign on Sept. 13 then funded Restoring America, which formed a week later.

Williams’ campaign issued a statement through campaign chairman Donald Storm denying any coordination.

“This outrageous allegation is 100% false, like most of the things you hear coming from Gov. Beshear’s campaign. Senator Williams does not take lightly these reckless, defamatory comments and believes that those making them should be held to personal account,” Storm said in the statement.

The campaign did not respond to a follow-up question about how Moore “should be held to personal account.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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