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Conway defends campaign contributions

by Joe Arnold


Posted on June 4, 2010 at 5:23 PM

One month after the Daniel Mongiardo Senate campaign accused Jack Conway of a conflict of interest related to campaign contributions, the Rand Paul U.S. Senate campaign is alleging that Jack Conway is "taking in thousands of dollars of campaign cash from BP executives," while he criticizes Paul's stance toward British Petroleum.

As it turns out, "BP executives" is Conway's brother-in-law, Henry Gordinier, who once worked for a BP subsidiary but now is employed by Kindred Healthcare, according to Conway.

"I am aware that my brother-in-law, Henry Gordinier, worked for Arco Aluminum which was a subsidiary of BP," Conway explained to reporters in Frankfort this week, "And at some point in the past, he might have listed his employer as that.  He's married to my sister (Kelli Gordinier) and it's a family contribution and I can assure you my brother-in-law was not seeking anything on behalf of BP," Conway laughed.

Henry and Kelli Gordinier contributed a combined $9600 to the Conway campaign in May, 2009.

Conway had disclosed during an Attorney General's news conference on the Eon U.S. rate hike request that he will be "turning down any campaign contributions from these companies while they have anything pending in front of the commission."  The Conway campaign, however, declined to say whether Conway would be returning any prior contributions from utility interests which were the focus of an ethics complaint filed by former Democratic primary rival, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. 

The status of that ethics complaint is not clear.

"There is no hearing scheduled regarding Daniel Mongiardo and/or Jack Conway," said John Steffen, Executive Director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, in an e-mail reply to a reporter's question.

"Unfortunately our confidentiality requirements prevent me from commenting specifically on the matter in any way," Steffen explained.

During the primary, the Conway campaign chalked up the ethics complaint to a "political stunt" by Mongiardo. 

"When people contribute to my campaign for the United States Senate, they're going to get a conscientious United States Senator," Conway said on Wednesday, "and they're going to get good government. They're not going to get anything else and that's the way I've always conducted myself.  I don't believe in government for sale. I believe that corporations have enough influence in Washington as  it is. And, the way Rand Paul's been conducting his campaign it seems he wants to take government completely out of the lives of the corporations."

Here's the news release from the Paul campaign:

Conway's Latest Hypocrisy: Takes BP Cash While Baselessly Criticizing Paul

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              June 3, 2010                                                                 

Bowling Green, KY --  Jack Conway reached a new low for campaign hypocrisy, when he falsely attacked Dr. Rand Paul on the BP oil spill, while all the while taking in thousands of dollars of campaign cash from BP executives.  Of course, pretending to be on the right side of an issue while taking campaign contributions from the other is nothing new for Jack Conway.

In this case, the controversy once again involves Jack Conway simply making up statements and attributing them to Dr. Paul.  Dr. Paul has clearly state that BP should be accountable for the mess in the Gulf and should bear the cost of cleanup.  He also believes it was a mistake for Congress to have limited BP’s liability.  The remarks that Jack Conway misrepresented, simply noted that he did not think it was an appropriate thing for the administration to both do nothing to help, while at the same time using political grandstanding to claim they were “keeping the boot heel to the throat” of BP.  This language was neither true, nor necessary.

The Federal Government has a responsibility to both assist in this type of disaster relief, and also to make sure BP does it’s job.  They’ve done neither effectively, rather, they’ve simply postured while allowing the spill to be mishandled.

Instead of spending their time rhetorically making BP into a villain, the Administration could have instead heeded the call of the Louisiana Governor, who has asked for federal supplies and a waiver for from federal rules in order to handle the problem on Louisiana ’s coastline.  For over two weeks, the silence from Washington was deafening, while the rhetoric was loud and clear.

Jack Conway and President Obama are forming a great team on yet another issue – lots of trumped up rhetoric, not a lot of substance.  This is not a recipe for handling a disaster, but it certainly is politics as usual.