by JACK BRAMMER, Kentucky.com
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Republican Party filed ethics and campaign finance complaints Wednesday against a House Democratic leader, alleging he misused state resources for his re-election campaign this fall.
The GOP complaints were filed against House Minority Whip Wilson Stone of Scottsville, who was elected to the House in 2008 and to Democratic leadership in 2017. He represents the 22nd House District, which includes Allen, Simpson and southern Warren counties, and faces Republican Brian “Tiger” Gann of Franklin in the Nov. 6 general election.
The complaints stem from a survey and accompanying letter Stone sent to constituents in his district, allegedly at taxpayer expense. The survey asked for opinions on issues the state legislature may consider next year, which is legal under state ethics and campaign finance laws.
But the GOP alleged Stone violated those laws when he included an appeal for votes in the letter, writing “I appreciate your input, and I request your vote and support.”
Tres Watson, spokesman for the state Republican Party, said the letters were sent using House Minority Leadership envelopes and appear to have been printed and mailed at taxpayer expense.
“One of the first things every legislator gets each session is a training in ethics and for a member to break such a commonsense rule in such a flagrant manner is appalling, but that goes double for a member of leadership,” Watson said in a statement.
Stone, a self-employed farmer, said in an email that he made a mistake and apologized for it.
“I sent out this survey to learn more about my district’s views on a variety of state issues facing the General Assembly and never intended this to be anything more than that,” the legislator said. “In my effort to end on a personal note, I mistakenly included language I should not have and will quickly take steps to rectify the situation.”
“I apologize and want to add that nothing like this will happen again,” Stone said.
In addition to a complaint to the Legislative Ethics Commission, the GOP also filed a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
The complaint noted that campaign communications that advocate for or against the election of a candidate requires a proper disclaimer stating what entity paid for the communication.
Stone’s letter, mailed on at least two dates in August and September, lacked such a disclaimer, the GOP said.