FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers on Tuesday said they may cut ties with a company tasked with overhauling the Kentucky campaign finance reporting system.

What You Need To Know

  • In 2019, Kentucky lawmakers started requiring online filing of campaign finance reports

  • The state contracted with Kentucky Interactive to rebuild the campaign finance reporting system to bring it up to code with the new law

  • Several candidates, including lawmakers on a legislative committee that met Tuesday, detailed problems with the system

  • Representatives for Kentucky Interactive testified in defense of the company

Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), who sponsored the 2019 legislation requiring online reporting, said he’s considering a bill to switch back to paper filing for 2023 so they can bring on a new company to rework the filing system.

“This has been a complete and utter failure,” Thayer said.

Several lawmakers detailed their individual issues with the system during a legislative committee meeting Tuesday: Rep. Patti Minter (D-Bowling Green) said it crashes frequently in the lead up to filing deadlines, and Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ryland Heights) said campaign treasurers have a hard time navigating the site to make sure their filings are correct.

“A large reason of why this becomes such an emotional issue for us is because a lot of us live with our treasurers,” McDaniel said, noting he was his own campaign treasurer in 2020. “For every one of us, a treasurer is someone whose integrity we find to be unimpeachable because they are charged with the finances of a campaign for which we could be held liable for felony violations.”

Representatives for Kentucky Interactive testified about their work on the state's campaign finance reporting system that has drawn criticism from lawmakers. (Spectrum News 1/Joe Ragusa)

Representatives for Kentucky Interactive faced questions from the committee about what went wrong, and general manager Carlos Luna said they want to figure out a solution.

“We are committed to continuous improvements,” he said. “We want the system to work. We want the system to be useful.”

Kentucky Interactive worked with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance for nine months on the plan before signing a contract.

Luna said afterward, his company discovered there was about 767% more work that needed to be done than was detailed in the original plan.

“That’s not typical,” he said.

But he said they are committed to getting more feedback about what’s going wrong, offering to sit down with a collection of campaign treasurers to understand their needs better.

McDaniel questioned why more help or more feedback hasn’t been sought to this point.

“This feels to me like we’re scrambling for reasons why, when at the end of the day, the performance simply has not been there,” he said.

Luna told Spectrum News any follow up questions had to go through Kentucky Interactive’s parent company, Tyler Technologies. A spokeswoman said the company has been responsive to lawmakers concerns.

“Our dedicated team works diligently to ensure the solution meets the needs for the end-user,” Tyler Technologies Senior Media Relations Specialist Karen Shields said.

KREF Executive Director John Steffen said many of Luna’s claims have no merit, including the claim about the extra amount of required work.

“We’re talking about a project that should have been done two and a half years ago, and I think that’s the big picture,” he said.

Thayer said after Tuesday’s testimony, he’s ready to move on from Kentucky Interactive.

“If you were in the private sector, you would have been fired two years ago,” he said.

Steffen said the state has paid Kentucky Interactive more than $314,000, but has also withheld about $233,000 for work that hasn’t been completed or satisfactory yet.