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KDP Releases Records Response Stating Elkins Used Gov. Email For Campaign Use

Matt Markgraf
Screenshot of open records response

The Kentucky Democratic Party released on Monday what they say is new evidence that now-former Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins, a Republican, used government resources for his campaign for state representative.

The KDP has released a copy of an open records response from Calloway County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger. According to the response, between July 16 and September 14, Elkins used his Judge-Executive email address on 88 occasions to send or receive emails pertaining to his “personal campaign, unrelated to any governmental function.” According to summaries describing the emails, these involved notes, flyers, invites, and finance reports involving his opponent, Democrat David Ramey. Ernstberger wrote the contents of these emails were exempt from disclosure, citing KRS 61.878(p).

The KDP filed complaints against Elkins last month to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance and the Calloway County Ethics Commission, claiming misused taxpayer resources in his campaign for Fifth District State Representative. Those complaints pointed to judge-executive contact information on his campaign website. Elkins, at the time, told WKMS News it was an error on his website.

Elkins, who announced his planned retirement as Judge-Executive in August, said in response to the new information that he had the email address on his phone and had used it for years. He said it didn’t cost the county any extra money.

Calloway County Ethics Commission met earlier this month for the first time, according to Ernstberger, to discuss a County Code of Ethics that had been in place for nearly 20 years involving “standards of ethical conduct for local government officers and employees.” The Commission then notified Elkins of the complaint and his right to respond and his right to a hearing. Ernstberger said Elkins has not yet responded.

Elkins Had Accused Another of Something Similar

While working on another story in August, WKMS News obtained email correspondence involving Elkins and former Calloway County Library Board member Jeff Gentry. Gentry voted for the library expansion before promptly resigning. Elkins opposed the proposed expansion and had sent an email titled “Library/Promises Broken” to Gentry and cc’d then Murray State University President Bob Davies. Gentry works in the Murray Police Department. The email stated “you promised me, among other things, to not vote for a project that would require long term debt.”

Later, on August 17, Elkins wrote in an email to Davies - following a request for emails from WKMS News - that he had copied Davies to that earlier exchange because Gentry “was using university emails and likely university time to conduct library business.”

Gentry serves on the Calloway County Ethics Commission.

Correction: This story had been updated to correct the timeframe of the emails. An earlier report said they were "between July 17 and July 23." This has been corrected to: "between July 16 and September 14." Elkins also announced his planned retirement in August, WKMS reported he retired in August, when he in fact retired September 30.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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