On December 6, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance issued an advisory opinion, saying that for campaign finance purposes, all political parties should be treated alike, whether they are ballot-qualified or not. The opinion had been requested last month by the Libertarian Party.
The Kentucky law on how parties gain qualified status is more severe than it sounds. Kentucky requires a 2% vote for President to be a qualified minor party, and a 20% vote for President to be a major party. The only parties that have enjoyed qualified status in Kentucky since World War II are the American Party 1968-1972, the Anderson Coalition Party 1980-1984, and the Reform Party 1996-2000. Obviously, many other minor parties have placed nominees on the ballot in the last 70 years, including the Libertarian Party, but they haven’t had qualified party status.
Under the ruling, qualified party status is immaterial to campaign finance. In 2011, the Libertarian Party put a nominee for State Treasurer on the ballot, and was warned that the party could not give more than $1,000 to its nominee because it wasn’t a qualified party, but in the future, unqualified parties will be permitted to give as much as the qualified parties. Thanks to Ken Moellman for this news.