FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Optometrists have been continuing their
generosity to Kentucky politicians, contributing nearly $150,000 to
the two main gubernatorial candidates, campaign finance reports
Those reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election
Finance show optometrists also contributed $36,000 to candidates
for attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and
"Our members have a longstanding history of supporting
candidates," said Darlene Eakin, executive director of the
Kentucky Optometric Association. "They're exercising their
privileges as Americans to participate in the political process."
Since the governor's race got under way last year, donors
listing their occupations as optometrists have given $88,350 to
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and $59,850 to Republican challenger
David Williams, but none to independent gubernatorial candidate
They also gave $16,000 to Democratic state auditor candidate
Adam Edelen, $9,260 to Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway,
$6,650 to Republican attorney general candidate Todd P'Pool, $2,600
to Democratic secretary of state candidate Alison Grimes, $1,050 to
Republican agriculture commissioner candidate James Comer and $200
to Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Robert Farmer.
The optometrists' political contributions came under a spotlight
earlier this year when the legislature speedily passed a bill
allowing them to perform some types of laser eye surgeries that had
traditionally been performed only by ophthalmologists in Kentucky.
That legislative action came after a year in which members of the
profession increased their political giving from less than $50,000
in 2009 to more than $250,000 in 2010.
Physicians charge that optometrists, who aren't medical doctors,
won't receive the extensive training that ophthalmologists undergo.
But optometrists contend that allowing them to perform a variety of
simple procedures, such as removing non-malignant growths around
the eyes or treating glaucoma, would be especially beneficial to
rural residents who don't have ophthalmologists in their
Optometrists still cannot perform more complicated procedures
such as LASIK surgery used to correct poor vision.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)