Bill Aims to Keep Constitutional Offices Accessible to Working Kentuckians.
Hoping to help ensure dedicated and talented Kentuckians continue to have an opportunity to serve as Constitutional officeholders, House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed legislation on Monday to raise contribution limits for candidates whose opponents self-finance their campaigns. Stumbo hopes his legislation will allow candidates seeking statewide office compete on a more level playing field as the influence of money in campaigns continues to grow.
“In Kentucky if you want to run for Governor, you have to be at least 30, have lived here for six years and, famously, have never fought in a duel,” Stumbo said. “However, we are at risk of making being independently wealthy and having access to millions of dollars an unofficial qualification for statewide office. Well, our statewide offices in Kentucky belong to the people and it’s in the best interest of our state and our people if we make sure that every qualified Kentuckian willing to jump in the arena has a shot at having their voice heard.”
Stumbo’s bill, HB 366, makes small but significant changes to Kentucky’s campaign finance law in order to help candidates who are unable to finance their own campaigns compete in a statewide election. Under Stumbo’s plan, once a candidate for Governor or their running mate donates $1,000,000 or more to their own campaign committee, it requires that slate to file a “Notice of Self-Funding” with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Upon a receipt of a Notice of Self-Funding, the Registry will notify, within two business days, all other candidates filed for Governor that they would now be able to accept $2,500 per individual instead of the current $1,000 limit.
These changes apply to both the primary and general election. However, if a self-funding candidate fails to advance out of a primary election, the $1,000 donation cap would be reapplied through the remainder of the general election or until another Notice of Self-Funding is filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
Additionally, candidates for Kentucky’s other statewide constitutional offices – Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture – would all have to follow similar procedures if a candidate for these offices chooses to self-fund his or her campaign. However, for these offices a Notice of Self-Funding would have to be required once a candidate or his immediate family donates $500,000 to the campaign.
“This legislation does not punish wealthy individuals who choose to seek statewide office in Kentucky nor does it place them at any competitive disadvantage; any candidate is freely allowed to spend as much or as little of their money on their campaign as they see fit,” Stumbo said. “But being able to write a check shouldn’t allow one candidate to drown out the voices of people who have ideas to share with the people of Kentucky about the future of our Commonwealth.”