Democratic consultant Dale Emmons will have to spend nine months in a halfway house after being sentenced on Thursday in an illegal campaign contribution case that has dragged on for nearly two years.
The Kentucky Democratic consultant and his co-defendant, former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, were indicted in August 2018 following a probe of illegal campaign contributions to the 2014 Senate campaign of Lundergan’s daughter, Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Emmons and Lundergan were convicted in a five-week trial in September 2019. On Thursday in a federal courthouse in Frankfurt, Ky., the two men were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove.
The 67-year-old Emmons, who is in poor health, was sentenced on six felony counts of making illegal campaign contributions to three years probation and fined $50,000.
He’ll need to serve nine months of his probation at a halfway house. The 73-year-old Lundergan, meanwhile, was sentenced 21 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for his role in “orchestrating” the “multi-year scheme.” His attorney argued for probation, saying he had good political motives at heart.
“He tried to fix the problems in this campaign. That’s why he’s here,” J. Guthrie True, said during sentencing on Thursday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
In 2018, True argued to reporters that the case was politically motivated. At the time, Lundergan faced a maximum sentence of 110 years and a fine of $2.5 million. Emmons faced 60 years in prison.
According to the feds, Emmons and Lundergan funneled $200,000 to Lundergan Grimes during her bid to stop Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from becoming Senate majority leader.
The “illegal corporate contributions” were like the Senate run’s seed money, prosecutors said in its sentencing memo.
“Over time, the defendants used the corporate money to pay for Emmons’s own political consulting services; staging, lighting, sound, and video services for campaign events; robocalls inviting voters to attend campaign rallies; mailers inviting voters to attend campaign fundraising events; and campaign merchandise, among a variety of other goods and services provided to the Grimes campaign.”
The memo continues: “The federal campaign finance laws, imperfect though they may be, remain the single greatest source for transparency and integrity in federal elections.
“Lundergan and Emmons trampled on these laws in single-minded pursuit of political victory.”
In a release, the Justice Department noted FEC reports played a role in the prosecution.
The concealment of her father’s contributions, caused the Grimes campaign "unwittingly to file false reports with the FEC because the reports failed to disclose the source and amount of the corporate contributions.”
An attorney for Emmons didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did the AAPC.
Last year’s trial hinged on the testimony of Jonathan Hurst, a Kentucky consultant who managed Lundergan Grimes’ 2014 Senate campaign and worked on her secretary of state runs in 2011 and 2015. He was originally a target of the federal investigation but was granted immunity to testify against Lundergan and Emmons.
Hurst has since been called a “tarnished” man, and the Kentucky House Democratic Caucus leadership recently “severed ties” with him after state House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins and Minority Caucus Chair Derrick Graham contracted with Hurst in 2018.