FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Employees of companies closely associated with highway contractor Leonard Lawson made at least $100,000 in contributions during last year's campaign for governor, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.
Lawson, who has come under scrutiny in a federal investigation of bribery allegations, has long been a major force in political fundraising in Kentucky.
A review by The Courier-Journal of campaign finance records shows that Lawson, his wife Bonnie, their son Steve, and Steve's wife Suzanne combined to give a total of only $4,000 -- all very early in the 2007 primary campaign -- to incumbent Republican Ernie Fletcher. They gave nothing to Democrat Steve Beshear, the eventual winner, writes veteran C-J Frankfort Bureau Chief Tom Loftus.
But if contributions by employees of two Lawson road companies and a Corbin accounting firm that works for those companies are included, the total rises to at least $80,500 for Fletcher's primary and general election campaigns, and at least $19,500 for Beshear in the general election.
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy said Lawson's involvement in fundraising typically extends well beyond the amount -- nearly $500,000 in the last decade -- that he and his family give, reports the C-J.
"He consistently produces money from subcontractors and other people who work for him," Forgy said.
Lawson didn't respond to a request for comment made through Claire Nichols, a Louisville public relations executive who represents him.
Since Jan. 1, 1998, Lawson and his family have made $496,350 in campaign contributions, according to records of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and a data library of donations to federal candidates called Opensecrets.org., reports the newspaper.
Those contributions have gone to Democrats -- including state Rep. Greg Stumbo, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler and Attorney General Jack Conway -- and to Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Senate President David Williams.
And individuals associated with Lawson's businesses have supplemented the family's giving. reporgts the Louisville Courier-Journal.
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