- Associated Press - Friday, August 22, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s bitter U.S. Senate race turned more combative Friday, with both state parties filing dueling complaints against Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The first salvo came from the state Republican Party, which submitted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission alleging Grimes accepted prohibited campaign donations from her father’s company.

The state Democratic Party followed with its complaint asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether McConnell improperly solicited campaign contributions in the U.S. Capitol.

The complaints ratcheted up an already-contentious race, one of the nation’s most closely watched.

McConnell, the top-ranking Senate Republican, is seeking a sixth term. He is facing his toughest re-election race against Grimes, who is Kentucky’s secretary of state.

Both campaigns were quick to denounce the complaints aimed at them.

“It’s beyond insulting to Kentuckians for the Grimes camp to try to divert attention away from an extremely serious campaign finance violation with a frivolous complaint,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said.

As for the GOP complaint, Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said: “Our compliance experts have done their due diligence and stand by the facts presented on this matter. This is yet another political stunt from the McConnell campaign and his allies to distract Kentuckians away from Mitch McConnell … selling access to the Senate Dining Room.”

The GOP complaint was hand-delivered to the FEC on Friday morning. It alleges Signature Special Event Services, owned by Grimes’ father Jerry Lundergan, purchased a touring bus and then leased it to Grimes’ campaign at below-market rates. Federal law bars companies from giving gifts to campaigns.

The FEC dismissed a similar complaint in 2010 involving a campaign bus rented to Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden by a campaign donor.

The Democrats’ faxed complaint stemmed from a published report indicating McConnell had breakfast in the Senate Dining Room with a top airline executive, who soon afterward contributed to McConnell. The report said the airline’s political action committee also contributed to McConnell within days of the breakfast.

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