Kentucky Democrats raise $50,000 from Charter for building fund, pales against GOP’s haul

By: - January 10, 2023 11:30 am

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Charter Communications, the St. Louis-based telecommunications company, contributed $50,000 in late 2022 to the building fund of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

The contribution was disclosed in a report filed by the party Tuesday morning with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

It was the only contribution listed in the Democratic Party’s building fund report covering the last three months of 2022.

It compares to a stunning $1.65 million in corporation contributions received in the last quarter of 2022 by the building fund of the Republican Party of Kentucky. Kentucky Lantern revealed those contributions in a story on Monday that noted the drug maker Pfizer Inc. contributed $1 million of that total.

A spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky said the large donations were raised to pay for an expansion of the party headquarters building – named the Mitch McConnell Building – in Frankfort.

Under provisions of a 2017 law each party has a building fund in addition to its traditional primary party fund used to advocate for election of its candidates. The building funds can be used only to pay costs of construction, renovation and maintenance of its headquarters.

While amounts a person or PAC can give to the traditional party funds are limited by law and corporation contributions are prohibited, the party building funds can accept contributions of unlimited amounts and can accept corporation contributions.

While the Democratic building fund contributions were tiny during the recent quarter compared to the Republican building fund, the $50,000 donation by Charter is still a large one.

A review of reports of the Democratic Party building fund shows that Charter Communications has almost single-handedly funded the party’s needs for building expenses in the last two years. Charter Communications also gave another $50,000 in August of 2021. The total $100,000 in donations is more than 86 percent of all the money the fund has taken in during the two-year period between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022, election registry records show.

The only other large contribution the Democratic building fund received in the past two years was $10,000 given last September by the PAC of the law firm Frost Brown Todd.

Charter Communications, like Pfizer, has had a lobbying presence in Frankfort for years. Also, like Pfizer, its interests in Frankfort are represented by the lobbying firm headed by John McCarthy, according to the website of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

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Tom Loftus
Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of The Ohio State University. His long career in Kentucky journalism includes four years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Kentucky Post and 32 years as Frankfort bureau chief for The Courier Journal. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and a freelance reporter for the Kentucky Lantern.