May 04, 2004


The Jessamine Journal

State Senator Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, has denied claims that he helped to raise money for Rep. Ben Chandler in his February special election race against state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr for the 6th District Congressional seat.

Buford is a Republican candidate in this month's primary to set up the race against Chandler in November's general election.

Despite Buford's denials, the story gained momentum Monday as Larry Forgy, the brother of Forgy Kerr and a prominent Kentucky Republican, announced his support for Bryan Coffman, one of Buford's primary opponents. Forgy cited Buford's alleged help for Chandler as one reason.

Buford had hoped to be the party's choice to run against Chandler in the special election, but Forgy Kerr won the nod in a caucus over several other candidates. She had the support of Sen. Mitch McConnell.


The accusation was first made by Chandler aide Loren "Squirrel" Carl, who worked with Chandler in the attorney general's office, and currently works for Chandler's congressional office. He recently stepped down as the Woodford County chief of police in Versailles.

Carl claims that Buford approached him on two occasions, once in December and once in January, saying that he would help raise money, and even asked to be put in contact with Chandler. It was after the second conversation that Carl said he put Buford in contact with Chandler, and the two allegedly spoke about fundraising.

"He said he was willing to help raise some money for Chandler during the Alice Forgy Kerr campaign," said Carl. He said that Buford never gave a reason for wanting to help, but "said that he would help get some checks for Mr. Chandler."

Buford said that Carl's accusations are politics as usual.

"He is just wrong. I did not offer to raise money for Ben Chandler, and I don't know why he is saying these things," said Buford.

"I am sure that I am their worst nightmare to come up in the November election. It's politics," said Buford.

"I understand that they would want to criticize anything to assist in me being defeated in this primary."

Buford and Carl have known each other for years and served on a bank board together. Buford said that the pair had conversations regarding the election.

"In December, as the candidate selection was under way for the Republicans and Democrats, they were trying to encourage Ben, but he wasn't a candidate then. Carl and I were having a conversation about the benefits of me running, my 14 years of experience, this and that. He said that he was curious about Kerr running and he mentioned some things about voting records," Buford said. "If I agreed with him, I agreed with him."

"My goal has never been to get Ben Chandler in Congress. If it was, why would I be running against him," said Buford.

The main incident in question involved Buford giving Chandler an envelope from a friend at a Jessamine County Rotary Club Meeting. Buford said he was given the envelope from a friend who asked him to deliver it to Chandler at the meeting.

"I told him I was going to the meeting, because I said that I wanted to hear what Ben had to say.

"Basically, to see if he was going to say anything bad about Alice, I was going to report it. So he asked me to hand deliver it. I didn't feel comfortable doing it, and I wouldn't have taken it for a stranger," said Buford. "But I knew him well."

"I didn't even look in it. I didn't sit with Ben at the meeting. I just handed it to him and said, 'Someone asked me to give this to you.'"

Buford said that the accusations are a strategy by the Chandler campaign to hurt his credibility.

"I can't imagine it being anything else. Ben's got to do something to get me out of this race," Buford said.|5/4/04|***

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