Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign is hitting Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes for renting a bus acquired by her father’s company for less than what other similar services would charge — a discrepancy legal experts say could be considered an illegal in-kind contribution.
Politico initially detailed that Ms. Grimes paid less than $11,000 through June to rent the bus, acquired last year by a company of Ms. Grimes‘ father, Jerry Lundergan, for at least 24 days at a going rate of about $456 per day.
Multiple companies told Politico they typically charge $1,500 to $2,000 a day for a like rental, and Mr. McConnell’s campaign itself paid at least $2,200 a day for a campaign trip earlier this month.
The FEC could force the Grimes campaign to pay a civil penalty if it pursues the matter and finds out the campaign received services for below fair market value from a corporation.
“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,” said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
“Alison has a lot of tough questions to answer about how her family, and their corporate interests, have improperly subsidized her political operation,” Mr. Benton said.
The Grimes camp defended the cost of the bus Tuesday.
“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,” said campaign lawyer Marc Elias. “We have reviewed the campaign’s methodology and agree that it complies with the applicable rules.”
Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said that “this hit-job from the McConnell campaign is nothing more than a baseless distraction after news broke of the McConnells pocketing over $600,000 in payments from organizations trying to kill Kentucky coal plants.”
“Our legal team has researched this matter, done their due diligence, and these disparaging attacks are inaccurate,” she said.
The Grimes campaign also said its $7,466 primary night victory party thrown at the Carrick House — a banquet hall owned by one of Mr. Lundergan’s companies — was consistent with market value. Mr. McConnell’s primary night victory party held at a Marriott Hotel in Louisville cost $22,550, according to invoices provided to Politico.
The Grimes camp, meanwhile, pointed to FEC filings showing the Jefferson County Republican party paid about $12,000 for the party.