Thursday, February 15, 2001

14 Patton nominees donated $47,000 to Democratic Party

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Fourteen of Democrat Gov. Paul Patton's appointees to state boards and commissions — including two Republicans — gave more than $47,000 to Democrat coffers, a story in Wednesday's Lexington Herald-Leader said.

        Mr. Patton's 1995 and 1999 campaigns also received $175,000 from 258 appointees or their spouses during his administration, the paper reported.

        Mr. Patton said political contributions are not a factor in the appointment process and said his current nominees are qualified and deserve legislative approval.

        “I expect they will do a thorough review of the people's qualifications and, unless they find them unqualified, I presume they will be confirmed,” Mr. Patton said.

        In all, 37 people are awaiting confirmation by the General Assembly this session. The state Senate confirms 21 of Mr. Patton's appointments and 16 go before both the House and Senate.

        Federal campaign-finance documents show 14 nominees or their spouses contributed a total of $43,250 to the Kentucky State Democratic Central Executive Committee. At least two were registered Republicans.

        Six appointees or their spouses also contributed a total of $4,500 to Mr. Patton's 1995 and 1999 gubernatorial campaigns.

        Martin Huelsmann, named chairman of the Public Service Commission last summer, and his wife, Shirley, have given more than $14,000 to Mr. Patton and the Democratic Party since 1995, the records showed.

        Richard Warner, appointed to the Kentucky Lottery Commission board in July, contributed $2,500 to the party in November.

        Anthony Kelly, appointed to the Postsecondary Education Nominating Commission, contributed $1,000 to the Democratic Party in October. Mr. Kelly, a registered Republican, said he has given to both major parties and said no one asked him to give to the Democratic Party.

        “There's been no connection to the governor's office on any donation I've made,” he said.

        Senate GOP leaders declined to say whether they intended to challenge any of the nominees, but said the backgrounds of the nominees are being checked carefully. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said senate committees will also examine the issue of contributions when they begin reviewing nominations.

        “We intend on letting everyone have a full hearing,” Mr. Williams said.

        The review of past contributors was based on records from nearly 3,600 past appointees between 1995 and 1999.

        Mr. Patton said the numbers show that the majority of his appointees have not given to the party or his campaigns.


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