FRANKFORT — A state agency’s software system apparently has glitches that indicate two Scott County legislative candidates’ campaign-finance reports violate state law.
However, the apparent violations — listed in printouts of reports submitted electronically — do not exist, since the donations in question are clearly listed on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance’s website.
The printouts — available at KREF’s offices for review by citizens or journalists — indicate state Rep. Mark Hart of Falmouth and Savannah Maddox of Dry Ridge each have submitted reports that list unnamed donors who gave in excess of $100 to their campaigns.
Hart, who represents the 78th House District, and Maddox, who is seeking the 61st District seat previously held by Brian Linder, are both Republicans.
The printout of Hart’s 30-day pre-election report, filed earlier this month, includes four listings of unnamed “individual” donors. Maddox’s 60-day pre-election report, filed in early September, has one such listing.
The News-Graphic discovered the issue while reviewing printouts of the reports obtained from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
John Steffen, director of the agency, said the listings on the printouts do violate state law.
“(N)o, it is not allowable to just list the contributor as ‘individual.’ The full name of the individual contributor must be given,” Steffen said Friday.
But he also said, “I don’t know if there wasn’t some glitch in the system.”
“It’s probably still some error on their end, but I find it hard to believe they intentionally put ‘individual’ when they clearly know” who made the donations, Steffen said.
Steffen said KREF has authorized two vendors to provide campaign-finance software to candidates in Kentucky: NGP Van and Adjutant Workshop. Candidates pay fees to use the software.
But for its physical files, KREF’s staff prints out electronic reports and provides those for review at the agency’s Frankfort office.
But Eldon and Savannah Maddox, along with Hart’s campaign treasurer Angie Lovelace of Alexandria, identified the donors in question, saying they had been properly listed in the reports’ sections on political action committee contributions.
Had they failed to identify the donors, Steffen said, the candidates could face fines. KREF’s staff will investigate the situation after the election, he said.
He also provided the language in the state law: “For each contribution in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) made to any candidate or campaign committee other than those specified in subparagraph 2. of this paragraph or a political issues committee, the full name, address, age if less than the legal voting age, the date of the contribution, the amount of the contribution, and the employer and occupation of each other contributor. If the contributor is self-employed, the name under which he or she is doing business shall be listed...”
Both Hart and Mattox submitted their reports electronically — a fact that may mitigate the legality of their filings if it resulted from a software glitch, Steffen said.
In the “individual donors” section of the printout provided by KREF for review, Hart’s report listed a $1,000 donation from an unnamed “individual” donor from Newport; $500 from an unnamed “individual” donor from Louisville; $500 from an unnamed “individual” donor from Butler; and $200 from an unnamed “individual” donor from Frankfort.
Lovelace identified the donors as $1,000 from Making a Sensible Shift in Elections PAC of Newport; $200 from K.A.D.E.T., the Kentucky Auto Dealers PAC in Frankfort; $500 from the Kentucky Bankers Committee for State Government PAC of Louisville; and $500 from the Pendleton County Republican Party in Butler.
The printout of Mattox’s online report listed a $1,000 donation from an unnamed “individual” donor from Newport on June 25.
Savannah Maddox pointed out Monday that the KREF website identifies the $1,000 donation as coming from Making a Sensible Shift in Elections PAC. (The PAC also made a $1,000 contribution to her campaign on Sept. 6.) The News-Graphic confirmed the information is in the online report.
No such irregularities were found in the reports of their opponents, Democrat Greg Coulson of Cynthiana, challenging Hart, and Darrell Link, the Democrat opposing Mattox.
Coulson filed a hand-written report, while Link used campaign-finance report software. The News-Graphic reviewed a printout of Link’s report.
“I don’t think there was anybody that was unnamed on the report,” said Eldon Maddox, Savannah Maddox’s husband and the treasurer of her campaign.
Maddox said his wife’s campaign is using the Adjutant Workshop software.
Lovelace did not identify the software she uses.
DAN ADKINS is a freelance journalist. Questions regarding this article can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.