Grimes’ tour bus illegal?

By Kevin Wheatley, Published:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign released quotes Tuesday supporting its claims of paying fair-market value to rent a campaign bus from her father’s business.

The claims come after a national media outlet raised questions as to whether the rental included illegal in-kind contributions from former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan’s company.

That didn’t stop Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign and GOP groups from using the report by POLITICO to question Grimes’ ethics for her family’s role in “improperly” subsidizing her political apparatus.

POLITICO reported Monday that Lundergan’s Signature Special Event Services purchased a 45-foot, 2003 Prevost bus Aug. 30, 2013, then rented the vehicle to Grimes for nearly $11,000 through June.           

The Grimes campaign rented the bus for 24 days, meaning it paid what amounts to $456 per day, far below what four other companies referenced by POLITICO charge daily. McConnell’s bus tour through eastern Kentucky cost the incumbent about $2,200 per day in transportation expenses, according to POLITICO.

The national outlet interviewed former Federal Election Commission attorney Larry Noble, who said Signature Special Event Services charging Grimes’ campaign below market value for the bus service could be an illegal in-kind contribution.

“If they can show that in fact that her campaign could have gone on the open market and gotten the bus for that price, then it’s market value,” Noble told POLITICO. “But if all the evidence is that the bus would have cost several times as much, then that’s not going to work.”

Grimes’ campaign, in response to the report, provided quotes from two companies in September and advertisements from two more that show comparable rental rates, though not including driver and fuel costs.

Staley Coach & Sales of Madison, Tenn., charges $150 to $175 per day for a 2003 Prevost coach, according to a Sept. 5 quote; North Side RV of Lexington charges $180.36 per day for a similarly aged smaller bus, according to a Sept. 27 quote; Star Coach of Atlanta advertises Prevost buses between $350 and $750 per day plus $200 for a driver; and Coast to Coast Coach of Santa Clarita, Calif., advertises between $300 to $550 per day for similar buses. 

Marc Elias, Grimes’ campaign attorney, responded in the report and in a statement to The State Journal defending the propriety of the expenses.

“The law requires that the campaign pay ‘the normal and usual fare or rental charge for a comparable commercial conveyance of sufficient size to accommodate all campaign travelers,’” Elias said in the statement. “In determining the appropriate rate, the campaign obtained quotes for the rental cost of a comparable vehicle from other providers in the Kentucky and regional market, and arrived at a reasonable reimbursement cost. We have reviewed the campaign’s methodology and agree that it complies with the applicable rules.”

Although the campaign’s legal arm found the campaign bus expenses defensible, that didn’t deter McConnell’s camp and other Republicans from voicing their concerns.

“The revelation that Alison Lundergan Grimes has potentially accepted large, illegal gifts and services from her father, Jerry Lundergan’s corporate interests is shocking and should set off warning bells for all Kentuckians concerned about ethics in public office,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. “Alison has a lot of tough questions to answer about how her family, and their corporate interests, have improperly subsidized her political operation.”

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  • I really had a hard time finding anything about Mitch McConnell Campaign Manager resigning. My understanding was he was Manager of Ron Paul's campaign at the time Sen. Sorenson was given a Bribe to switch endorsements from Bauchmann Campaign to Pauls Campaign. I really think Jessie Benton hated McConnell, so why did he take up being in his campaign, unless the Paul's wanted to insure McConnell a win----------no matter what? Why is there not a conversation going on about this? Bribery an McConnell having the guy running the Paul's campaign that was involved in the Bribery, certainly would be a pretty big HEADLINE, wouldn't it? Why are we talking about a cost of a Bus an not a Bribery charges-------Resigning of Mitch McConnell Campaign Manager Jessie Benton an did he have anything to do with the Bribery when he worked for the Paul Campaign an is that the REASON he quit the McConnell Campaign is a really, really big deal---------------------an all I can find is this little arguement over grimes paying a little less for a Bus she's riding in! What the heck?? Come on, even if you are one sided in this election----------------all papers should be carrying this big story an talking about it--------Your going to vote after all for McConnell an not talking about if he's as dirty as the Ron Paul Campaign has apparently been------an why he'd hire Jessie Benton out of the Ron Paul's campaign when they didn't even like each other, an McConnell had to know this bribery case was coming down? 

  • user_38106, August 22, 2014 6:04AM "This is a small issue. I've never een a more scripted candidate."....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................What a joke you tell trying to paint Alison with Mitch's brush. You are full of it!

  • This is a small issue. I've never een a more scripted candidate. She goes off the script once (her Iron Dome ad lib) and shows how shallow and out of touch on national (international too) issues she is. She has dodged reporters at every turn and when she does speak up, her handlers cringe. Add in the fact that Jerry Lundergan is probably the primary puppeteer and trying to work a loophole on the bus is no surprise.

    McConnell is a consumate Washington insider and his negative ratings speak for themselves, but if this is the best that the other side can put forward, he's going to get six more years.

  • user_571075, August 21, 2014 12:41PM

    "If McConnell is a turtle (very much alive) then Grimes must be a "mannequin" as evidenced by the picture of her posing in front of her tour bus!!!"

    Actually 571075, Grimes was moving just fine but the still camera made it appear that she was frozen in that pose...it is this new fangled thing that we call a photograph.  It is not really her but just a likeness..you know, kind of like a drawing but better and faster.  I know this may seem like magic to you and be hard for you to assimilate since it looks like she was not moving, and you are probably thinking that her soul is trapped in that picture too, but really, I can assure you that it is not.  No one was harmed in making that photograph.  

    As far as Alison being able to "move", when she and Mitch were speaking at the Farm Bureau Annual Meeting this week, Alison was the only one who got up and went to the podium when answering a question from the crowd, while Mitch didn't seem to be able to get out of his chair...or maybe he didn't think that these farmers were worth getting up for.  They certainly are not worth going to the Agricultural Committee meetings for the last 3 years where HE is the CHAIRMAN.  The symbolism was priceless!!  And it wouldn't surprise me a bit! 

  • user_571075, August 21, 2014 12:41PM

    "If McConnell is a turtle (very much alive)..."

    Naw, I was just using that as an example of a misleading headline in the form of a question, which means that you are not actually accusing her of something illegal, just planting the seed in the voter's mind, particularly if they don't read the article which debunks the whole thing entirely.

    ACTUALLY, the headline should have read "Mitch McConnell A Child Molester?"  

  • Most of the people posting on here are, apparently, getting their information from a rag, such as The Star.  I have seen, on mainstream medie, that while Mitch has occasionally stretched the truth, MOST of Grimes' ads have been out and out LIES.  Hmmmm!!! Sound familiar, maybe your potus.

  • If McConnell is a turtle (very much alive) then Grimes must be a "mannequin" as evidenced by the picture of her posing in front of her tour bus!!!

  • Start with a salacious headline that demeans a Democrat but every time there is a McConnell story the headline is approving and in LARGER TYPEFACE?

     

    Hypocrite much State Journal?

  • The provocative headline begins with a question:"GRIMES’ TOUR BUS ILLEGAL?"

    And then the answer:

    "The Grimes campaign rented the bus for 24 days, meaning it paid what amounts to $456 per day, far below what four other companies referenced by POLITICO charge daily. McConnell’s bus tour through eastern Kentucky cost the incumbent about $2,200 per day in transportation expenses, according to POLITICO."

    "Staley Coach & Sales of Madison, Tenn., charges $150 to $175 per day for a 2003 Prevost coach, according to a Sept. 5 quote; North Side RV of Lexington charges $180.36 per day for a similarly aged smaller bus, according to a Sept. 27 quote;"

    And the McConnell response:

    "Although the campaign’s legal arm found the campaign bus expenses defensible, that didn’t deter McConnell’s camp and other Republicans from voicing their concerns.

    “The revelation that Alison Lundergan Grimes has potentially accepted large, illegal gifts and services from her father, Jerry Lundergan’s corporate interests is shocking and should set off warning bells for all Kentuckians concerned about ethics in public office,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. “Alison has a lot of tough questions to answer about how her family, and their corporate interests, have improperly subsidized her political operation.”

    So, Kevin and Editor Case, why the provocative and misleading headline again?  Is that the way you are going to play this?  OK, I have a suggestion for a story for you with the headline:

    *** MCCONNELL A 160 YEAR OLD GALAPAGOS TURTLE?

    The revelation that Senator Mitch McConnell is actually a large turtle from the Galapogos Islands should set off warning bells for all Kentuckians about ethics in public office.  Mitch has a lot of tough questions (like the one in the headline) to answer about his family back on the islands and how he hoodwinked Kentuckians into thinking that he was human.  The photo below is of Mitch at Fancy Farm...you make the call. 

    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ_zvb_KMknd3E-NNwJnwsHEfUO4z2nu7IxaaF4ttoH-_r1VUwpwQ

  • come on now gang; its just a bus ride!

    Or are we being taken for a ride!!

  • Maybe what should set off warning bells for Kentuckians is the fact that McConnell and his minions can't negotiate fair market prices.  Of course, why should it surprise us that Mitch can't negotiate when he has repeatedly failed to negotiate on our behalf in the Senate?  He fails with negotiations and he has failed Kentuckians.

    By the way, who owns the company through which McConnell's bus was rented?  Have the staff or owners of that company made political contributions to McConnell or his GOP cronies?  Is his bus' $2,200 per day price tag some sort of kickback?

    Mitch needs to stick to the issues and stop grasping at straws.

  • Mitch is the king of "money equals free speech" (his words, not mine) where he is routinely bribed but he contends that it is only his constituents exercizing their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

  • More sleaze and lies from McConnell. Only way he can win is to throw mud and lie. But it ain't happening this time. People of Kentucky are tired of this guy and his do nothing politics.

  • McConnell questioning anyone's ethics is the pot calling the kettle black.

    *** it ethical for a senator to use his office to cajole corporations (and give favor to their legislative agenda) to fund projects in his name?