Thrasher: Handy Food Mart coupons violated campaign finance rules

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 — A local Republican judge executive candidate has cried “foul!” over another GOP candidate’s coupons that celebrate the 50th anniversary of his business.

DON THRASHER

According to judge executive candidate Don Thrasher, Tim Hutchins’ Handy Foot Mart coupons being distributed at some of the Nelson County Schools violate Kentucky campaign finance regulations.

The coupons are part of the ongoing celebration of his store’s 50th anniversary, Tim Hutchins told the Gazette. The coupons have no political advertising or content on them. The flyers have five discount coupons for food and drink items available at his business.

Thrasher said the problem is that the coupon sheet mentions Tim Hutchins by name as well as the name of his business, Handy Food Mart. Because Hutchins is also a May primary candidate for judge executive, the flyers not only promotes the business, but also serve to promote Hutchins.

TIM HUTCHINS

By law, corporations of any kind are not allowed to make donations to political candidates. By having Hutchins’ name on the coupon, it could be claimed that the food mart’s coupon sheet was a donation that helps promote him by name, and also his political campaign.

If Hutchins removed his name from the coupons, that would solve the problem, Thrasher told the Gazette.

So far, Hutchins doesn’t plan to change what he said was his long-standing practice of using his name in his business advertising. The practice goes back many years in both print and radio advertising, he said.

The coupons have no political conent, they make no mention of politics and don’t have any graphics that would appear political. The coupons in question — just like the earlier ones he’s distributed to schools — were never intended to be political.

The coupons that some allege also promote Tim Hutchins, a Republican candidate for Nelson County judge executive.

“I’ve been doing it this way for years,” he said.

“First of all, we are celebrating our 50th anniversy of Handy Food Mart, and I’m extremely proud of that. I was attacked by a judge executive candidate who used only my name and not the name of my business,” Hutchins said.

“The coupons were distributed to elementary school kids for use at the store and did not mention my candidacy of the May primary election. I’ve been passing out coupons like this at my store — and thru the schools — for years, not just during an election.

Hutchins said he’s alwasys gotten permission from school principals before sending coupons to give to their students.

He dismissed Thrasher’s claim that the coupons promoted his campaign for judge executive.

On his campaign Facebook page, Hutchins hit back at Thrasher’s assertions, calling them false.

“The last time I looked, I didn’t think elementary school kids could vote,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Thrasher said he contacted the Nelson County Schools superintendent and the board attorney about the ads after a concerned parent reached out to him. He said he did not plan to file a complaint regarding the issue.

On social media, Thrasher posted he would never offer free ice cream or fried chicken in an effort to get voter’s support in the May primary election.

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