March 1, 2019 Blog

WHO IS FUNDING PHILLIP WHEELER? Voters deserve to know

With just days until the March 5th special election, Republican State Senate candidate Phillip Wheeler is being accused of violating Kentucky election law. Wheeler’s latest campaign finance report fails to disclose thousands of dollars spent by his Republican Party bosses in Frankfort and possibly other unknown third parties in coordination with Wheeler and on his behalf, as required by Kentucky’s campaign finance laws.

Wheeler’s February 18 campaign finance report on file with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance does not report expending any money for TV and radio production costs (only listing $35,000 for radio advertising), digital advertising or direct mail costs. This despite the fact that Eastern Kentucky voters in the 31st Senate District were bombarded by glossy political mailers, hundreds of ads on both radio and TV/cable, and thousands of digital media ads supporting Wheeler and attacking his opponent, Democrat Darrell Pugh. Furthermore, the Wheeler campaign does not report receiving any in-kind contributions by the Republican Party of Kentucky or any other third party spending on his behalf that might account for these expenses incurred during the reporting period.

Since Wheeler fails to disclose the information as required by law, it is impossible to know how much the services cost and who paid for the design and production costs for Wheeler’s TV, radio and digital ads, as well as the cost of printing his mailers during the time period in question.  While the disclaimer on Wheeler’s mail pieces clearly indicate “Paid for by the Republican Party of Kentucky,” and postage was paid using the non-profit permit of the Republican Party of Kentucky — Wheeler’s report reflected none of these in-kind expenditures. Other in-kind contributions may also be missing from Wheeler’s campaign, but there is no way of knowing unless and until the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance completes a thorough investigation.

Wheeler’s opponent, Darrell Pugh said, “The fundamental purpose of any campaign finance disclosure law is to inform voters who is funding a candidate’s political campaign and what they are spending on his behalf.  My opponent and his political allies in Frankfort are making a mockery of our laws. If Phillip Wheeler is his own man and not a political puppet for Matt Bevin and his party bosses in Frankfort, he will come clean immediately and explain to voters why he has failed this most basic test of integrity and tell them how much has been spent on his behalf and who paid for it.  With only days remaining before Election Day, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance has a duty to enforce the laws that my opponent and his allies are willfully ignoring.”

Wheeler’s latest campaign report also showed that the vast majority of his contributors live outside the district. Approximately 80% of the individual contributors reported on Wheeler’s February 18 finance report are from people who can’t vote for Wheeler. Ironically, the report also shows that while Wheeler has tried to convince voters that he will not be a puppet for Matt Bevin, he has pocketed contributions from the wife of Governor Matt Bevin’s running mate, Dawn Alvarado, along with other Bevin supporters.  While Wheeler constantly invokes the names of Trump, Clinton and Pelosi, Matt Bevin’s name has not once crossed his lips on the campaign trail.

Questions for Phillip Wheeler

Note:  All of the following services were provided and the resulting expenses were incurred before February 18 and should be reflected on Wheeler’s February 18 Campaign Finance Disclosure Report

  • Who/What entity designed Wheeler’s mailers?  Who did the entity that designed Wheeler’s mailers invoice for their services?  How much did it cost? Who paid for it? Why did Wheeler not report this in-kind contribution on his February 18 report?  Did the entity that made the in-kind expenditure promptly notify the Wheeler campaign of this in-kind expenditure? When?

  • While the RPK apparently paid for the postage costs for Wheeler’s mailers, who/what entity printed Wheeler’s mailers?  Who did the entity that printed Wheeler’s mailers invoice for their services?  How much did it cost? Who paid for it? Why did Wheeler not report this in-kind contribution on his February 18 report? Did the entity that made the in-kind expenditure promptly notify the Wheeler campaign of this in-kind expenditure? When?

  • The RPK apparently paid for the postage costs for Wheeler’s mailers. Did the RPK notify the Wheeler campaign of their in-kind expenditure for the postage cost of the mailers? When? How much did it cost?  Why did Wheeler not report this in-kind contribution on his February 18 report?

  • Who/What entity designed Wheeler’s digital ads?  Who did the entity that designed Wheeler’s digital ads invoice for their services?  How much did it cost? Who paid for it? Why did Wheeler not report this in-kind contribution on his February 18 report?  Did the entity that made the in-kind expenditure promptly notify the Wheeler campaign of this in-kind expenditure? When?

  • While Wheeler reported paying GRIT Media to purchase the campaign’s TV and radio airtime, did GRIT Media also produce Wheeler’s TV and radio ads?  If so, how much did it cost to produce Wheelers TV and radio ads? Did GRIT invoice Wheeler’s campaign directly for their production costs? If so, when?  Why did Wheeler not report this in-kind contribution on his February 18 report? If GRIT did not invoice Wheeler directly, who did GRIT invoice?  If GRIT invoiced the RPK or some other third-party entity, when did GRIT send their invoice to the RPK or the 3rd party entity?  Did the RPK/3rd party entity promptly notify Wheeler of their in-kind expenditure? When? How much did it cost to produce the ads? If GRIT did not send an invoice to the RPK, but instead sent an invoice for production costs to some other third-party entity, what is the name of the other third-party entity.  If GRIT did not produce Wheeler’s TV, radio and digital ads, who did?