FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to
making illegal campaign contributions to a number of candidates in
last year's governor's race, including former Gov. Ernie Fletcher
who was defeated in his re-election bid.
The case against Phillip Dufour, an employee of state road
contractor Elmo Greer & Sons of London, was resolved Friday by an
agreement that required him to pay a $10,000 fine. In addition,
Elmo Greer and Sons agreed to pay $250,000 to cover the cost of the
The agreement also requires the company to cooperate in further
investigations by providing names of others who may have been
involved, Attorney General Greg Stumbo said.
"Protecting our political process is essential to freedom,"
Stumbo said in a statement. "With this criminal plea and
significant fine, we have fired a shot across the bow of all who
seek to taint elections with illegal contributions."
Dufour entered his guilty plea to the felony charge in Frankfort
County Circuit Court. Durfour and his attorney didn't immediately
return calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors alleged that between Sept. 18, 2006 and Aug. 27,
2007, Dufour made improper payments to eight people who in turn
made contributions to the gubernatorial campaigns of Fletcher,
former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry of Louisville, and former U.S. Rep.
Anne Northup of Lousiville.
The investigation was sparked by a story last year in The
(Louisville) Courier-Journal, which identified suspicious donations
of up to $1,000 to gubernatorial candidates from people working in
low-paying hourly jobs.
Kentucky has a long-history of election fraud. In other cases in
recent years, people have been accused of paying cash, even trading
whiskey, for votes.
In late November, four eastern Kentucky officials were arrested
on election fraud charges for allegedly trading government-owned
gravel, asphalt and bridge-building materials for votes in a local
election last year.
Knott County Judge-Executive Randall Clinton Thompson, Deputy
Judge-Executives John Mac Combs and Phillip G. Champion and former
county Magistrate Ronnie Adams were accused in a federal indictment
of misappropriating public funds to influence the outcome of the
general election on Nov. 7, 2006. They entered not guilty pleas.
The previous Knott County judge-executive, Donnie Newsome,
served 16 months in federal prison after being convicted of
election fraud in 2003.
Federal prosecutors have also pursued cases in a number of other
Appalachian communities, the latest of which was Bath County.
More than a dozen people were charged in an alleged scheme there
to pay impoverished residents to vote for particular candidates.
Among those charged were candidates for judge-executive, county
attorney and sheriff, all of whom were either convicted or pleaded
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)