Churchill Increases Political Contributions to Kentucky Lawmakers

Churchill Downs stepped up its political contributions to Kentucky legislators in recent months, sending checks totaling nearly $50,000 to lawmakers in the three months leading up to the 2002 General Assembly, according to a published report in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Several legislators told the newspaper they thought the timing of the contributions was inappropriate, since it came just before the legislative body was to meet and probably consider a bill that would permit Kentucky's racetracks to install slot machines. In the week prior to the General Assembly opening, the report said, legislators received checks for $15,500. A number of lawmakers said they had or were going to return the checks to Churchill.

Forty-five of Kentucky's 138 legislators had received contributions ranging from $500 to $1,000 since September 2001, the report said. In 2000, the track's political action committee contributed $19,700 and just $6,547 in 1999, the newspaper said.

The Courier-Journal report did not indicate whether casino companies that own riverboats in Indiana had made similar political contributions.