Business First has a curious story about political campaign contributions in its current issue both in print and on its website. (We won’t link to the web version because it’s only for subscribers). The story lists the Louisville area’s top 30 individual donors for the 2016 election cycle — this includes White House candidates — and says whether their gifts went mostly to Democrats or to Republicans. The names were compiled for the business weekly by the well-regarded Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group in Washington that tracks campaign finance.
Here’s what’s odd; bear with us, because it’s complicated. The story says the No. 1 donor is a retired Dr. Mark Jones, who’s said to have given a total $200,950 primarily to Republicans. He’s far and away the most generous donor listed; No. 2 is the philanthropist Christy Brown, who’s given $76,600 (mostly to Democrats), according to the list.
But Boulevard wonders whether the center has erred. We used its searchable database to build our own list of the biggest Kentucky donors for the 2016 election cycle. At the top of our list: one David A. Jones, identified only as a Louisville retiree who gave $200,000 on Sept. 14 to the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC.
He’s almost certainly Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr.; the PAC lists his $200,000 gift, and his West Main Street office address in its annual 2015 Federal Election Commission report. (Moreover, if you search solely for any David A. Joneses, you turn up another five donations totaling $41,500 from a retired David A. Jones Sr., including $33,400 on May 27, 2015, to the Republican National Committee. However, it doesn’t look like these gifts were from his son, venture capitalist and Humana director David A. Jones Jr.; these appear to be from Jones Sr.)
Back to the Business First story. The center’s database does, indeed, show two contributions by a Dr. Mark Robert Jones of Louisville, but totaling only $950. And unlike Business First’s account, Jones isn’t identified as retired. The donations went to 21st Century Oncology; it’s unclear whether that’s a PAC.
Did the center mistakenly credit the $200,000 from David Jones Sr. to Dr. Jones and his $950, pushing the doctor to the top of the list? It certainly seems possible. That would mean the Humana co-founder is the real top donor, with a total $241,500. We’ll watch Business First for any clarification in the days ahead.
This much is certain: The Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC is solidly Republican. “Our highest priority in 2014,” its website says, “was ensuring the reelection of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2016, we turn our attention to delivering control of Kentucky’s State House of Representatives to the Republican Party.”