Scott Jennings, Opinion contributor | Courier Journal
As of last Thursday, the father and political consultant of Kentucky’s Democratic secretary of state are headed to federal prison to join the chief deputy of Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general and nominee for governor.
Alison Grimes and Andy Beshear, the top two Democrats in Frankfort, may be divided by a decadeslong intraparty feud between their fathers, but they are united by the misdeeds and malfeasance of their family legacy as voters prepare to render judgment on state government once more in November.
The convictions of Jerry Lundergan, Grimes’ father and a former Democratic Party chairman, and Dale Emmons, a longtime cog in the Democratic Party’s state wheel, of breaking laws related to Grimes’ unsuccessful campaign against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, breathed fresh life into an argument Gov. Matt Bevin has made many times: that voters should reject, once and for all, the culture of corruption and self-dealing that defined Kentucky’s Democratic Party for decades.
It is hard to believe that over three campaigns, Grimes could claim no awareness whatsoever of how and why money was being spent on her behalf, out of committees bearing her name. Every Democrat who appeared on the ballot with Grimes in 2015 —Beshear especially — must now answer questions about whether they knew of campaign finance misdeeds that may have changed the outcome of the election. Grimes won by just 22,000 votes. Beshear, just 2,201.
Beyond the campaign finance shenanigans, Grimes has earned impeachment via her conduct in office. An investigation by journalists working for ProPublica and the Lexington Herald Leader discovered that Grimes used the state’s voter registration file “to look up political rivals, state investigators and a range of political operatives.”
Grimes is now under two investigations by special state prosecutors and three state agencies — turmoil that swirls as she prepares to oversee a gubernatorial election featuring two candidates with whom she has well-known differences. Given her history of flouting the law and her own campaigns’ evident engagement in election fraud, no Kentuckian can trust Grimes to impartially oversee this election. If something goes wrong, we cannot have a compromised secretary of state in the middle of it.
Her resignation is imperative, and her impeachment is warranted. Hopefully, Bevin and the leadership of the General Assembly are already discussing next steps.