FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A federal investigation that led to cockfighting charges in Eastern Kentucky has drawn U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes and another politician into the debate.
The operator of the Big Blue Sportman's Club told a crowd before an April 4 fight that Grimes was secretly working to legalize cockfighting, according to a federal affidavit signed by Special Agent Stan Wojtkonski of the U.S. Office of the Inspector General.
The club's operator, Walter Dale Stumbo, never said Grimes or Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo attended fights, but did say the politicians were working to overturn federal legislation that made cockfighting a felony, according to the 32-page document.
"Secretary Grimes has never had a conversation with anyone about cockfighting and has not met with the individuals in question," said Charly Norton, a spokeswoman for Grimes.
The cockfighting issue has plagued the U.S. Senate race for months. A WAVE 3 News investigation revealed that Republican candidate Matt Bevin had attended a pro-cockfighting rally in March.
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell was the target of criticism from pro-cockfighting groups after he voted for the federal farm bill that included the penalties.
But the Grimes campaign says it was she, not McConnell, who supported the farm bill first.
"Alison Lundergan Grimes pushed Mitch McConnell to support the bill that cracked down on this practice, while he stood silent for months," Norton said. "This is yet another desperate attempt at distortion from the McConnell campaign."
As a result of a two-year investigation, Walter Dale Stumbo, Joshua Stumbo, Sonya Stumbo Jonathan Robinson and Wesley Robinson face charges of conspiring to sponsor a cockfight and conducting an illegal gambling business.
Greg Stumbo said the three Stumbos charged in the case are distant cousins of his. Stumbo is a common name in Eastern Kentucky, he said.
The House speaker denied trying to overturn federal law.
"As an elected official, I have not and would not participate in any way form or fashion an activity that is criminal in nature," Stumbo said in a statement to WAVE 3 News.
The federal affidavit indicates Walter Dale Stumbo's comment about the politicians came near the end of the investigation that began as a drug probe in Virginia.
Wojtkonski describes how agents discovered that Walter Dale Stumbo was running a cockfighting pit in Kentucky that drew people from Virginia and several other states.
Undercover agents visited Big Blue's pit for more than a year, regularly betting on chickens. The arena had stadium seating, VIP seating, concessions and parking, Wojtkonski said.
After the farm bill's passage, the club's organizers became more concerned about operating the pit and increased security around the facility, even parking a bulldozer at the front gate to prevent a police raid, Wojtkonski described.
It cost $1,700 to fight in the April 4 event, agents said.
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