Ethics complaint filed against Conway by opponent

John O'Brien May 4, 2010, 3:52pm


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Legal Newsline) - Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's opponent in the race for a U.S. Senate seat has filed an ethics complaint against him.

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo filed the complaint Tuesday with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, claiming Conway has "violated the public trust" by accepting more than $70,000 in campaign contributions from utility companies, their executives and lobbyists while approving rate hikes.

"Attorney General Conway's duty is to represent rate payers -- not big utility companies, Mongiardo said.

"It is a clear conflict of interest for Attorney General Conway, who is supposed to negotiate rate increases on behalf of Kentucky rate payers, to have accepted over $70,000 in campaign contributions from utility companies he is negotiating with."

The two are facing each other in the Democratic primary. Mongiardo was unsuccessful in his 2004 run against Jim Bunning.

Conway campaign manager Jonathan Drobis called the ethics complaint a political stunt.

"Kentucky law requires that a formal complaint must be signed 'under penalty of perjury.' No such statement appears on Mongiardo's complaint," Drobis said.

"Under the law, Mongiardo must know he was making material misrepresentations and that's why he did not make the statement under penalty of perjury - out of fear for being prosecuted for his baseless accusations."

Mongiardo says Conway benefitted from a rate increase requested by Atmos Energy. Atmos is a business partner of Kinder Morgan, in which Conway has invested millions of dollars, Mongiardo alleges.

Mongiardo's complaint also says Conway approved a $22 million rate increase for Louisville Gas & Electric then accepted thousands of dollars in contributions from the company's executives and its registered lobbyists.

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