Former Kentucky Dem Party Chair Convicted of Campaign Finance Violations

Funneled corporate cash to daughter's campaign against McConnell

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
September 12, 2019

A jury convicted Jerry Lundergan, a longtime Democratic operative and the father of Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes, of breaking federal finance law.

Lundergan, former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman, and Dale Emmons, a Democratic political consultant, were charged with illegally funneling corporate contributions into Grimes's failed 2014 Senate campaign without seeking reimbursements. Grimes was running against current majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Lundergan was found guilty on 10 counts and Emmons on six, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Herald-Leader also reported that the most serious charge could entail a maximum prison sentence of 20 years for each.

Lundergan and Emmons plan to appeal the conviction. During the trial, their attorneys argued that federal prosecutors failed to show criminal intent and that the transactions were innocent mistakes.

The prosecutors alleged that Lundergan and Emmons funneled more than $200,000 in corporate contributions to Grimes's campaign and conspired to conceal the transactions from campaign compliance officials, according to the Washington Post.

The violations occurred because Lundergan either paid for services directly and did not seek reimbursements, or because he moved money through Emmons to pay for campaign costs.

Lundergan served in the Kentucky house of representatives in the 1980s, and also acted as state chairman for Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 presidential run.

Despite her father's assistance, Alison Lundergan Grimes ended up getting just under 41 percent of the vote against McConnell in 2014, who won with 56 percent of the vote.

She has served as Kentucky's secretary of state since 2012, successfully winning re-election in 2015. She cannot run for a third term because of term limits, and decided against running for governor amid speculation.