The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance ruled today that mayoral candidate and Metro Councilman Jim King, D-10, and his daughter, Jefferson District Judge Katie King, are both guilty of unknowingly violating state election law.
In a preliminary finding released earlier this month, the agency’s staff said Councilman King violated campaign finance laws by giving his daughter more than $145,000 during her campaign last fall, which far exceeds the $1,000 limit. The registry’s general counsel accused King of seeking a way to infuse money into his daughter’s campaign knowing that he could not directly contribute funds.
In a telephone interview with LEO Weekly last week, however, Councilman King defended the hefty contributions, calling them “personal gifts.” King added that before he handed over any money, he corresponded with a KREF employee who told him the agency does not regulate the private finances of a candidate.
Despite the councilman’s contentions, the registry’s board ruled Councilman King violated two provisions and that Judge King violated three provisions, with each punishable by fines of up to $5,000. But because the infractions were classified as an unintentional, the case will likely be referred for conciliation, which means no criminal prosecution.
“I told everybody all along they were guilty,” says activist Ed Springston, who filed the original campaign finance complaint against the Kings. “The only disagreement we ever had was the KREF said it was a non-knowing violation when clearly it was a knowing violation.”
The blogger and radio show host says questions remain about the professional conduct of the councilman’s attorneys who advised him, adding that other parts from his original complaint haven’t been addressed.
In a released statement, Councilman King defended his actions while appearing ready to put the controversy behind him.
“We believe the findings of the Registry as ‘not knowing’ proves we followed their advice. We look forward to mediating a fair result for all parties,” King said in response to the finding. “I’m just thankful that we won’t waste another precious tax dollar on this, and that we can turn our attention to the issues that are facing the people in our community; jobs, safety and quality of life.”