Beshear campaign, Kentucky Democratic Party return $202,000 linked to London mayor Skip to content

Beshear campaign, Kentucky Democratic Party return $202,000 linked to London mayor

Contributions were made on Randall Weddle’s credit card

3 min read
Randall Weddle, mayor of London, Kentucky, speaking at Gov. Andy Beshear’s press conference on May 18. (Screen grab from Gov. Andy Beshear’s YouTube Channel, via Kentucky Lantern)

The Andy Beshear for Governor campaign and Kentucky Democratic Party have refunded $202,000 in what they determined to be excess political contributions from members of the family of London Mayor Randall Weddle and employees of a company Weddle co-founded.

The refunded contributions were first identified as being unusual in an April 17 report by the Kentucky Lantern under the headline, “Some surprising new players in Kentucky politics are filling Beshear’s campaign war chest.”

That report noted that members of Weddle’s family and employees of WB Transport, a company co-founded by Weddle, had provided the biggest batch of contributions to the Kentucky Democratic Party and the Beshear campaign — at least $305,000 — since Beshear became governor in 2019.

None of those donors had ever before made a large political contribution. Bundling political contributions is legal as long as the contribution is voluntary and the contributor is not reimbursed for the donation. It is illegal for a person to exceed the donation limits by making excess contributions in the names of other people.

Mayor Weddle himself was never listed by the party or Beshear campaign as a contributor, and he told Kentucky Lantern he did not know how the contributions came about.

Eric Hyers, Beshear’s campaign manager, initially rejected the suggestion that the donations could be improper.

But in a text message Tuesday morning Hyers said that the $202,000 was being refunded because the Beshear campaign had discovered that a credit card in Randall Weddle’s name was used to contribute that amount.

The refunds, Hyers said, would be reflected in reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and the Federal Election Commission this week.

Weddle did not immediately return a phone message left at the London mayor’s office Tuesday morning.

Hyers also released a statement from the Beshear campaign that said in the past month “it was brought to our attention that contributions were made to both the campaign and the Kentucky Democratic Party in excess of contribution limits. The donors themselves raised the issue, and expressed the desire to properly remedy the situation.”

The statement said that the campaign and party officials discovered that multiple contributions had been made on the same credit card.

“As soon as the campaign was informed of what happened, we notified the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and sought guidance of how to rectify the situation. Per their instructions, we have refunded the contributions,” the news release said.

The news release also does not list the specific contributions that were refunded.

Hyers said that the Beshear campaign refunded $12,000, and the Kentucky Democratic Party refunded $190,000.

The Democratic Party’s report had not yet been posted on the Federal Election Committee website as of early Tuesday. But the Beshear campaign report for the period extending back to early May has been posted on the election registry website and it shows refunds of $2,000 each to six people from the Weddle-WB group: Jennifer Weddle, of Corbin; Lisa Weddle, of Knoxville; Phyllis McAdams, of Corbin; Michael Hacker, of Gray; David Owens, of Keavy; and Alecia Owens, of Indianapolis.

The statement from the Beshear campaign on Tuesday said the refunds were made as part of the campaign’s “full faith effort to comply with both the spirit and the letter of all campaign finance statues.”

The statement also said, “In addition to taking immediate steps to refund donations that were made in excess of contribution limits, we have taken proactive steps to prevent this from happening again.”

The statement gave this explanation as to how what it determined to be excess contributions came to be accepted by the campaign and the party:

“At issue is the fact that a single credit card was used to process donations in excess of contribution limits. To our surprise, the credit card processor did not notify us that a single credit card was processed multiple times, exceeding contribution limits. When donors contribute to the campaign via credit card, we are only able to see the last four digits of the credit cards used for these donations.

“Because the credit card processor did not catch the issue, we have implemented an additional step in our compliance process. Under this new procedure, a member of our compliance team will manually sort all online contributions on a periodic basis to find any credit card that has been used to donate an amount greater than the contribution limits. In addition, we have conducted this additional step retroactively, and are satisfied that this is the only instance in which a credit card has been used multiple times by multiple users to make contributions in excess of Kentucky contribution limits.

“We are confident that with these new procedures in place, we will be able to more easily detect a situation like this and make any necessary refunds. We think it is important that campaigns are forthcoming when actions need to be corrected, which is why we are providing this accounting of how this matter came to our attention and the steps we took to make sure that all contributions in our possession are compliant with all campaign finance statutes.”


Written by Tom Loftus. Cross-posted from the Kentucky Lantern.

Print Friendly and PDF

Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service. We’re based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.