$1 Million Pfizer Donation To Republican Party Of Kentucky To Be Used For ‘Mitch McConnell Building’

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

As the Republican Party steams forward in its majority in the House, eyes are on the factions of the party, namely the conservatives and the so-called RINOS who align with Democrats in the name of compromise. Links between corporate donations and Republicans are high-profile, and one donation in Kentucky is raising eyebrows in regard to the relationship between the minority Speaker of the U.S. Senate from Kentucky and a drug company that produces, among other drugs, vaccines.

Sean Southard, the spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky, said in a statement that “the Republican Party purchased the lot next door to our Frankfort headquarters and is planning an expansion project. Our current headquarters was acquired in 1974. With the growth of the Republican Party in Kentucky, we have a need for additional space.”

“As we raise funds into the building fund account, we are following both federal and state law. The funds raised into this account can only be used for certain expenditures related to the building and are not eligible to be spent on candidate or issue advocacy,” Southard replied to questions about the enormous size of the corporate donations.

A $1 million dollar donation is considered large. Pharma giant Pfizer donated $1 million to the Kentucky Republican Party last month. The generous gift from the COVID-19 jab manufacturer is believed to be the highest donation to a political party in state history, We Love Trump reports.

Pfizer’s donation is specifically designated for the particular project of the stated building. It will be used to expand the Frankfort Mitch McConnell Building in the state capital. Rules regarding donations to building funds changed as recently as in 2017 in Kentucky.

“A sign identifies the party headquarters as the Mitch McConnell Building, in honor of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,” the Kentucky Lantern reports.

Continued from the Kentucky Lantern:

A report filed by Republican Party of Kentucky Building Fund last week with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance listed the $1 million from Pfizer along with five other big corporation contributions in the final quarter of 2022 totaling $1.65 million.

That is an extraordinarily large haul for the fund which had raised only $6,000 during the first three quarters of 2022.
The other large corporate donors to the fund in late 2022 were:

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., New York, $300,000;
Altria Client Services LLC, of Richmond, VA., $100,000;
Comcast Corp., of Philadelphia; $100,000;
AT&T, of St. Louis; $100,000;
Delta Air Lines, of Atlanta, $50,000.

State and federal campaign finance laws set limits on how much a person or political action committee can give to the executive committee of either political party. (A person can give no more than $15,000 per year.) And corporation contributions to a party’s executive committee are prohibited.
But part of a campaign finance bill passed by the General Assembly in 2017 allowed each party to establish a building fund that can accept contributions of unlimited amounts. It also allowed the building funds to accept contributions from corporations.

The election registry website says that money in a party building fund “may be used for expenditures related to the purchase, construction, maintenance, renovation, and repair of the state executive committee’s main headquarters facility.”

The groundbreaking and exceedingly large donation by a single company to a political party in Kentucky reflects the 2017 bill that allowed parties to accept unlimited funds for building, as well as allowing the funds to be accepted from corporations.

The Kentucky Democratic Party’s building fund has not yet filed a report on its contributions and expenses for the last quarter of 2022, Kentucky Health News
reports. the party has, though, started a four-year process of selling its headquarters near the Interstate 64 and Versailles Road Interchange in Frankfort.

The contributing company, Pfizer, has had a long lobbying presence in Kentucky and for years it has retained the lobbying firm headed by John McCarthy to represent its interests in Frankfort. Fueled by sales of the Covid vaccine, Pfizer’s revenue doubled to $81.3 billion from 2020 to 2021. The company ranks 43rd on the Fortune 500 list. for the first three quarters of 2022, Pfizer reported $76 billion in revenue. Pfizer announced in November that it will triple or even quadruple the price of its Covid vaccine once it goes on the commercial market next year, according to Kaiser Health News.

In 2022, Pfizer spent $11.6 million lobbying the federal government, putting it in the top dozen lobbying spenders, according to Open Secrets. Its affiliates and PAC contribute generously to federal candidates of both parties. Altria Client Services (a subsidiary of Phillip Morris), AT&T, Comcast, and Delta are also registered to lobby the Kentucky General Assembly. Metropolitan does not retain a lobbyist in Frankfort, according to records in the Legislative Ethics Commission.

Lobbyist McCarthy, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky and still a member of its executive committee, has not yet returned messages seeking comment on the Pfizer donation.

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