Mongiardo Says He Was Unaware Of Law That Banned PAC

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - State Sen. Daniel Mongiardo said he was unaware of a law that banned state legislators from having political action committees.

"I assumed that since everybody and their sister on the federal level has a PAC, there was no harm," Mongiardo told The Courier-Journal. "It didn't hit my radar that there could be a problem."

Since forming earlier this year, DANPAC KY and a federal version of the same group raised $9,850, according to state and federal disclosure reports. It paid $7,521 to founder Ryen Greer, according to the reports. Another $1,024 is unaccounted for in the most recent report filed with the Federal Election Commission, the newspaper reported Thursday.

Mongiardo, a surgeon from Hazard who is running for lieutenant governor in the 2007 race on a ticket with former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear, is under investigation by the Legislative Ethics Commission because state law prohibits legislators from organizing political action committees in their names.

"I'm disappointed in myself for not having been more attentive to the details of being involved in something like this," Mongiardo said.

A Democrat, Mongiardo has said he served as a distant adviser to the PAC and allowed it to use his name because he had the understanding that it would raise money for Democratic candidates that were trying to help fix problems in health care.

Darrell Brock, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, said he believes Mongiardo's lack of knowledge about DANPAC is "an indicator of his future capabilities in the office he's seeking."

Brock's group filed the complaint that led to the investigation.

"Here's a guy that pays no attention to detail and kind of lets things get away from him," Brock said. "Voters will look at this and see a guy who, intentionally or unintentionally, breaks the law, then does a poor job of oversight."

Mongiardo said he should have known more about the PAC, but he trusted Greer and Frankfort real estate developer Jerry Lunsford, who approached him about it early this year. Mongiardo told the newspaper he thought Ryen was acting in good faith.

Greer, a Frankfort native who lives in Mount Pleasant, S.C., replied to an e-mail from the newspaper that he could answer questions submitted to him in writing, but did not.

Lunsford declined to comment on the PAC.

Mongiardo severed ties with DANPAC in June after an ethics commission staffer told him that his association could be in conflict with the law.

He has said he made an honest mistake and would make it public if he is reprimanded.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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