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Republicans Want FBI to Investigate Yung Money Ties to Possible Casino Deal
Will the F.B.I. once again become involved in Kentucky Politics?
Republicans Want FBI to Investigate Yung Money Ties to
Possible Casino Deal

The Kentucky Republican Party Chairman, Steve Robertson, has sent to the F.B.I. a letter asking them to investigate possible ties between Governor Beshear’s Administration and businessman Bill Yung.

Yung owns several casinos in 5 states. He donated one million dollars to a 527 political organization during the General Election of 2007. Yung also gave $10,000 to Beshear’s inauguration committee.

The 527 political committee in receipt of Yung’s money was the Bluegrass Freedom Fund. On their web site they defined themselves as:
“The Bluegrass Freedom Fund was formed in 2007 to encourage a public discussion about education and the schools, economy, and job, health care, retirement and pension security, and other issues affecting the citizens of Kentucky.
The Bluegrass Freedom Fund is an independent political organization under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a political committee under federal or state campaign finance laws. Contributions to the Bluegrass Freedom Fund are not tax deductible.”

During the 2007 Kentucky Governor’s race, the Bluegrass Freedom Fund designed and ran clever ads attacking Ernie Fletcher’s record. The ads were very effective and created a major attack against the Fletcher Administration.

The concept of 527 committees was most successfully used in the 2004 Presidential Election. It was a 527 committee that designed and created the “Swift Boat” attack campaign against Democrat John Kerry.

These committees are very new to Kentucky politics. GOP Chairman Robertson seems not to be questioning the use of Yung’s money for the attack ads, but rather of something more sinister. Chairman Robertson is questioning meetings that Yung had with Candidate Steve Beshear’s staff before he gave money to the 527 committee.

By their nature and structure under the I.R.S. Code, 527 committees cannot, in any way, be linked back to an ongoing campaign. This is the key question: Did Beshear’s staff, in any way, make promises that would tell Yung that his money would go toward a commitment for building a new casino in Northern Kentucky?

Governor Beshear told reporters today that he has met Yung twice, once during the primary campaign and another time during the general election campaign. Beshear says Yung told him he wanted to build a casino in Northern Kentucky if casino gaming is legalized in Kentucky. Beshear says their will be open competition for the casino licenses and Yung's money won't buy him any more access than anyone else.

However, under an F.B.I. investigation, this will probably not be the key issue. If they mount an investigation, it will probably target the staff meetings during the campaign and any undue connection with the 527 Bluegrass Freedom Fund.

This story has all the high drama of a very bad Hollywood B movie. However, it also has lots of money being involved in the campaign for governor. It has come to light this week that Yung is spending $7 million dollars to purchase land in Covington with hopes of building a casino on it.

Whatever happens to Chairman Robertson’s request to the F.B.I., he and GOP Senate President David Williams have already won a quick media victory by simply getting this far with the story.

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