Quick Takes

Beshear campaign says its donors attest that they are contributing their own money

By: - April 21, 2023 5:35 am

Randall Weddle, then a candidate for London mayor, listens as Gov. Andy Beshear helps celebrate the opening of WB Transport’s new warehouse in April 2022. (Screenshot with permission of WYMT)

FRANKFORT — Responding to questions about a Kentucky Lantern report, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday said  contributions supporting his reelection campaign are always “voluntary” with no promises of any sort given to donors.

The Kentucky Lantern on Monday reported that the largest group of contributors to the Democratic governor’s reelection bid include people who had never before made a political donation and are affiliated with WB Transport in London and the company’s co-founder Randall Weddle, who is mayor of the Laurel County seat.

The group of contributors associated with Weddle and WB Transport, who donated more than $300,000, was one of several groups of first-time donors from all over the country  — contributing the maximum amount allowed to Beshear’s campaign and the state Democratic party — who are engaged in the reverse logistics/liquidation business, which re-sells merchandise that has been returned by the original buyer.

The Lantern’s analysis of campaign finance records found that altogether Beshear’s campaign and the Kentucky Democratic Party received nearly nearly $700,000 from first-time Kentucky donors connected to the reverse logistics industry.

Weddle, a registered Republican who did not contribute to Beshear but whose wife and other relatives did, previously told the Lantern he had no role in raising the money. He said neither he nor his family had asked the governor for anything, nor has Beshear asked them for anything. Beshear hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony last year for a WB Transport warehouse and also appointed Weddle to a state transportation board. 

Bundling political contributions is legal if the contribution is voluntary and the contributor is not reimbursed for the donation. However, it is illegal for a contributor to exceed donation limits by making extra contributions in the names of other people.

The Lantern asked Beshear at a Thursday news conference if he knew how first-time donations from those affiliated with WB Transport and relatives of Weddle had come to his campaign coffers and if his campaign examines specific donations to confirm that a donor is not being reimbursed. 

Beshear didn’t directly answer the questions, saying such inquiries should be directed to his campaign. He said he has never promised donors anything in exchange for contributions.

“We’ve had support from Democrats and Republicans, thousands and thousands and thousands of people across Kentucky and across the United States,” Beshear said. “But all of those have been voluntary, and nothing has or ever will be promised for any type of donation.”

A spokesperson for Beshear’s campaign in a statement Thursday said it was “dedicated to ensuring we completely follow all laws and campaign finance statutes.”

“As a part of that effort, we make sure donors attest that they are contributing their funds and no one else’s, nor are funds being provided to the donor from another person or entity for the purpose of the contribution,” said Alex Floyd, the campaign spokesperson. 

On an online form to donate to Beshear’s campaign, contribution rules are listed in the web portal including a condition that says, “This contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution.”

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.