Humana, coal executives and unions with ties to Kentucky were among those contributing a significant amount of money to the two groups that spent the most on the state’s race for governor last year.
Putting Kentucky First, a group funded entirely by the Republican Governors Association, spent nearly $9 million on advertisements supporting the reelection of former Gov. Matt Bevin last year, according to ad-tracking company Medium Buying.
Bluegrass Values, funded by the Democratic Governors Association, spent $5.3 million on ads supporting Andy Beshear — who won a narrow victory over Bevin — while the campaigns of those two candidates each spent less than $4 million on their own.
The RGA and DGA filed new reports with the IRS last week documenting the combined $53 million the groups spent on gubernatorial races in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi in the second half of 2019.
The filings also showed nearly $1 million of their $41 million of contributions in this period were from people and companies with ties to Kentucky.
Louisville-based Humana spent more than $200,000 in the last week of the election, giving $100,000 to the DGA and $100,450 to the RGA. Likewise, Churchill Downs contributed $50,000 to the DGA in September, evening out the $50,000 it gave to the RGA in the first half of the year.
The largest single contributor to either group in the second half of the year was Joe Craft, the CEO of coal company Alliance Resource Partners and husband of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, who gave $250,000 to the RGA in October.
Murray Energy Corp., an Ohio-based coal company that was also a major supporter of Bevin’s campaign, gave $50,000 to the RGA in August.
Also contributing $50,000 to the RGA in the second half of 2019 were:
Mary Jane Diebold, the chairwoman of Louisville-based Fabricated Metals
Spencer Coates, president of Houchens Industries
Bavarian Waste Management in Walton, Kentucky
CEP Holdings, a Louisville company headed by Charles Price, an early investor of Braidy Industries who was named its new board chairman last week. The company also gave $30,000 to the RGA in the first half of 2019.
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In the first half of the year, the top contributors to the RGA were Corbin-based banker Terry Forcht, who gave $150,000, and Louisville-based ResCare, which gave $125,000.
More than a third of the $331,000 contributed by Kentucky-related groups to the DGA in the second half of 2019 came from seven local unions of plumbers, pipe fitters and Teamsters.
Charah Solutions, a Louisville coal ash company, also gave $50,000 to the DGA.
While over 80% of the funds for Bluegrass Values came from the DGA in this period, over $1 million of contributions also came directly from labor unions supporting Beshear, including:
National Education Association: $500,000
United Food and Commercial Workers: $75,000
International Union of Painters & Allied Trades: $50,000
Kentucky Professional firefighters: $20,000
International Association of Firefighters: $20,000
Ullico Inc., a labor-owned insurance and investments company: $25,000
Kentucky Family Values
Unions — especially those representing teachers — also gave heavily to a political action committee that spent almost $2 million in support of Beshear through mailers and canvassing in 2019.
In the final months of the campaign, pro-Beshear PAC Kentucky Family Values received $500,000 from Better Schools Kentucky, the PAC of the Jefferson County Teachers Association; $500,000 from the National Education Association; and $200,000 from the Kentucky Education Association.
Kentucky Family Values also received the following contributions in the general election:
Plumbers and Pipefitters: $85,000
United Food & Commercial Workers: $52,500
Kentucky Laborers District Council: $50,000
Christy Brown, Louisville philanthropist: $25,000
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $20,000