Former Kentucky Dem Chairman Headed to Prison for Illegal Campaign Donations

Jerry Lundergan conspired to illegally donate $200,000 to daughter's failed Senate campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
October 6, 2021

The former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, and father of failed Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, is headed to prison for illegal campaign donations.

Jerry Lundergan, a caterer, business owner, and former lawmaker, was convicted in 2019 of conspiring to illegally donate $200,000 to his daughter's campaign from one of his businesses. In 2020, a federal judge sentenced the 73-year-old Lundergan to 21 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $150,000. He had been on unsupervised release awaiting a ruling from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, the appeals court upheld his conviction.

Lundergan served as a state representative and party chairman during his decades-long involvement in Democratic Party politics. This is the second time he has been convicted of a felony related to his political influence. In 1989, a jury found him guilty of "improperly using his influence to gain a state contract" after his catering company secured more than $100,000 of contract work at state events while he was a representative. Lundergan resigned his seat following the conviction, but an appeals court later ruled his charges a misdemeanor.

Grimes failed to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) during her 2014 Senate campaign, losing by more than 15 points. She served as Kentucky's secretary of state from 2012 to 2020.

A well-connected political figure, Lundergan counted former president Bill Clinton as a close friend. Clinton wrote a letter of support to the court before Lundergan's conviction that called the former party chairman "a good man with a big heart who has made a positive difference in countless lives, including my own." Lundergan also served as the state chair for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

Lundergan was ordered to report to prison on Nov. 30. His attorney has said he is also seeking an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.