Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grimes' spending with father's firms questioned; McConnell ally starts 'death tax' ad as forum nears

Setting the stage for the candidates' first true face-to-face exchange, coming Wednesday:
  • Alison Lundergan Grimes has been rolling around Kentucky in a 45-foot tour bus, attending rallies and taking photos next to the vehicle. "Her father’s company acquired the bus just as the campaign got underway last year — and is renting it to his daughter for a fraction of what other companies would typically charge," reports Manu Raju of Politico. "Grimes paid less than $11,000 through June to rent the bus for at least 24 days, amounting to about $456 per day. Officials at four bus companies said they typically charge $1,500 to $2,000 a day to rent a similarly sized bus,"  Raju reports. McConnell's campaign reported it spent at least $2,200 a day to rent a bus of roughly the same size. "The spending highlights the central role" Grimes's father, caterer Jerry Lundergan, "is playing in his daughter’s bid to unseat McConnell," Raju writes, reporting his companies have received $35,000 from the campaign. According to legal experts, the difference between what the company charges "and the fair market value of the bus rental could be considered an illegal in-kind contribution. . . . The Grimes campaign disputes that it is paying less than the fair market value for the bus, saying it went above and beyond to ensure that its payments reflect comparable prices of other similar vehicles." For a video report from Politico, click here.
  • The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition launched a new TV ad, highlighting the effect of the estate tax on farmers in Kentucky. KOC senior adviser Scott Jennings said, "With the Kentucky State Fair underway and farmers from around Kentucky gathering in Louisville to celebrate our state’s rich agriculture heritage, we thought it was a prime opportunity to once again educate citizens on the devastating effect of the death tax and the need to join Senator McConnell’s efforts to repeal it."
  • McConnell started a new ad responding to Grimes's ad that starts out with an attack on his wealth, saying it is an attack on his wife, Elaine Chao, because it is based on "his wife's inheritance after his mother died." A release from McConnell's campaign last week, making similar points, cited a Fortune magazine story that said Chao's father "delivered the bulk of the couple's wealth in a 2008 gift valued between $5 million and $25 million," one of the ranges in which such assets are reported on Senate personal financial disclosure forms. The gift was a bequest following the death of Chao's mother.
  • The candidates meet at 2 p.m. today at Kentucky Farm Bureau headquarters in Louisville for the federation's "Measure the Candidates" forum, their first true back-and-forth discussion. They will answer a series of questions on agriculture and rural issues, and the format allows them to respond to each other. The forum is open to Farm Bureau officers, selected staff and the news media but will be videostreamed live at www.kyfb.com/livestream<http://www.kyfb.com/livestream.
  • One topic of discussion at the forum will be the Republican's absences from meetings of the Senate Agriculture Committee, writes Alexandra Jaffe of The Hill, noting "McConnell’s public schedule reveals many times when he’s missed hearings but has still managed to make time for media appearances or meetings on issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers." UPDATE: Grimes posted a 30-second web ad on the issue.
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