State Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, has been reprimanded publicly and ordered to repay $24,000 in campaign contributions for a series of campaign finance violations dating back five years.
The Senate Ethics Committee determined Knotts had:
-- Accepted $23,850 in campaign contributions from 29 individuals and entities that exceeded the limit allowed by law. He also accepted $1,000 in excessive contributions during the 2008 general election cycle.
-- Inaccurately reported the contributions on his state-required disclosure reports. For example, in one instance, Knotts accepted a $2,000 check from a corporation and reported the contribution as two separate contributions from two persons at $1,000 each -- the legal limit set by law. Subsequently, those two persons also made separate $1,000 contributions from their personal accounts to Knotts.
-- Failed to report 40 contributions totaling $26,750, some of which were in excess of the $1,000 statutory limit. In some instances, Knotts failed to report the names of those who gave them him money
-- Failed to report nearly $17,000 in interest earned on his campaign's certificate of deposit accounts.
-- Failed to report about $11,000 in campaign expenditures and miscellaneous banking charges.
-- Failing to report campaign account withdrawals and expenditures. In January 2009, Knotts withdrew $425 from his campaign account. Knotts told the Senate Ethics Committee he used the cash to buy pizza and pay five students to be chaperones at skate parties that he sponsors annually for Honor Roll students in his Senate district.
-- Failed to report an $8,000 personal loan to his campaign in 2008 and subsequent loan payments as well as loan payments on a $60,000 loan that he did report in 2008.
-- Making numerous and substantial reporting errors, including failing to reconcile his disclosure reports with his campaign account. In 2008, for instance, Knotts reported nearly $35,000 of expenses that he previously had reported.
The committee found no evidence that Knotts used of the campaign money personally or that any of the money was missing.
A public reprimand is his punishment, according to a Tuesday news release from the Senate Ethics Committee. Knotts also must amend his campaign finance reports, develop a system to identify whether a contributor has made contributions in excess of the $1,000 limit, and reimburse $24,000 to individuals and entities for contributions that exceeded the legal maximum of $1,000.
-- GINA SMITH, Staff Writer