FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2017
Kentucky Chamber Urges Appeal of Ruling That Lobbyists Can Contribute to Legislators
FRANKFORT, Ky— Today, the Kentucky Chamber announces it is publicly urging the Kentucky Board of Elections and the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission to appeal a judge’s ruling that overturned Kentucky’s quarter-century ban on gifts and contributions to legislators from lobbyists.
The Kentucky Chamber will organize other associations which lobby the Kentucky General Assembly to take similar action, and will fight to maintain the state's current ethics system.
U.S. Senior Judge William Berlesman, who issued the ruling, states that Kentucky’s legislative ethics prohibition on gifts and contributions from lobbyists is unconstitutional. This ruling came about from a lawsuit filed in 2015 by state Senator John Schickel; David Watson, a Libertarian House candidate in 2016; and Ken Moellman, a 2018 candidate for Pendleton County judge-executive. Defendants are the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.
Kentucky’s current ethics laws were enacted after an FBI investigation in the early 1990s, known as BOPTROT, which led to the indictment of several legislators for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for influencing legislation.
According to the Legislative Ethics Commission, the ruling has no bearing until all parties can agree upon the language of the formal stay. Therefore, the ethics laws remain in effect until the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission and the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance gives further notification.
“Kentucky has strong ethics laws which have guided us in the years since BOPTROT, kept our political system relatively clean and discouraged a ‘pay to play’ mentality,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson. “It would be a disservice to the citizens of the Commonwealth to roll these reforms back. We urge the defendants of this lawsuit to file an appeal to maintain ethical boundaries in our legislative process.”