LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- As a national tea party group endorsing Republican challenger Matt Bevin places thousands of yard signs in Kentucky encouraging voters to "Retire Mitch" McConnell, Louisville officials say the signs violate city codes and are subject to removal.
About three dozen signs reported to Louisville Metro Public Works have been removed from public right of ways in the Arnoldtown Road area, according to Harold Adams, a city spokesman.
"We only remove signs under two conditions," Adams told WHAS11. "One, that they are first reported to us and then two, they actually are in the right of way."
"When we remove them, we hold them for about 30 days," Adams explained. "People can come and reclaim them if they wish, but other than that they are destroyed."
The Louisville Courier Journal's Joe Gerth first wrote about the signs, which are paid for by Freedom Works for America, on Monday:
FreedomWorks for America — which announced last month that it was endorsing McConnell’s Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin, and would spend up to $500,000 toward that cause — paid for the signs. The group also is organizing others to begin canvassing neighborhoods for Bevin this week, said Russ Walker, FreedomWorks’ national political director.
"We have distributed over 5,000 signs around the Louisville and Lexington area and another 5,000 Bevin signs will be distributed this week,” Walker said.
The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe followed up with a report explaining a Louisville ordinance allowing political signs only two weeks prior to Election Day. They must be removed them within two weeks after the election, or the group faces a $100 fine per sign.
Jaffe spoke to Louisville Metro Government Code Enforcement Officer Chris Monahan:
Monahan said he had received calls from the Louisville Police Department, as well as city council aides and local residents, complaining about the signs “polluting” the county’s roadways. “We oppose just driving down the road and placing dozens of signs along state driveways that aren’t permissible right of ways for these signs,” he said. “They pollute our neighborhoods and our county.”
Monahan said that, while it’s not unusual for local businesses and politicians to post signs, they’ll typically take them down when alerted by the government that they’re in violation of code.
But Russ Walker, national political director for FreedomWorks for America, said his group has no intention of removing the signs.
“That’s absurd,” Walker told The Hill of the local regulations. “People should have the right to put signs up in support or opposition to candidates when they feel inclined.”
Freedom Works America has non-profit tax status as a 501(C)4 organization.
Ironically, McConnell has defended the free speech rights of such "social welfare" groups. Last month, McConnell railed against proposed regulations on nonprofit organizations by the Obama administration.
"The new IRS commissioner has a simple choice," McConnell said in a Senate floor speech. "He can either restore the public’s trust in an agency whose reputation was already in doubt, or he can allow himself to be used as a political pawn by an administration that now seems willing to do anything to keep those it disagrees with from fully exercising their constitutionally-protected right to free speech."