Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

This is a logo owned by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. (link)



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $512,457
Expenses: $144,351
Assets: $644,175

Executive Director:

Burt Lauderdale

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth is a left-of-center organizing and advocacy group focusing on environmental issues. Kentucky activists founded the group in 1981 as the Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition.

In the decades that followed, the Coalition adopted its present name and expanded its area of focus to include advocacy efforts related to education, labor union-backed employment policy, and regulations restricting political advocacy. Since 1984, it has maintained a 501(c)(3) educational and research arm, the Kentucky Coalition.


In 1981 following the publication of the Appalachian Land Ownership Study, environmentalists met in Hazard, Kentucky on August 17 and launched an advocacy organization initially named the Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition. In the following year, the coalition advocated for stricter restrictions on mining including the abolition of property tax exemptions for unmined minerals. During the second half of the 1980s the coalition expanded its advocacy efforts to include supporting regulations regarding groundwater pollution. The coalition also published a “Citizens’ Water Handbook” and started hosting an annual event called the “Citizens Coal Summit.” Toward the end of the decade, the Coalition changed its name to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. 1

During the 1990s, members of KFTC impeded the path of a bulldozer in a political stunt to draw attention to land use laws and advocated for legislation renewing coal severance taxes in Kentucky counties with large amounts of mining activity. Additionally, during the second half of the decade, KFTC broadened its focus from just Kentucky mining and groundwater policy to include issues such as economic development, economic inequality, and campaign finance regulations. Toward the end of the decade, KFTC started its first chapters in western Kentucky in Hopkins and Union counties while simultaneously forming a committee to advocate for left-wing economic policies related to education access and funding in Kentucky. 2

KFTC carried out an advocacy campaign promoting “net metering” legislation intended to encourage the use of solar energy in the early 2000s. Later, in 2007, KFTC advocated for union-backed legislation increasing Kentucky’s minimum wage, and further increasing restrictions on mining operations. Later, in 2008, KFTC brought two congressmen, Ben Chandler (D-KY) and Norm Dicks (D-WA), to eastern Kentucky to see a mountaintop removal mining operation in progress. In the following year, KFTC members traveled to Washington to participate in Capitol Climate Action, an environmental protest. During that same period, KFTC lobbied Congress to pass the Clean Water Protection Act. Following this lobbying effort, KFTC hosted Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) on a fly-over tour of sites where mountaintop removal mining operations had taken place. 3

In 2010, KFTC members met nearly 20 times with the Obama administration’s federal agencies to advocate for increased enforcement of mining and water protection laws. In the following year, 14 members of KFTC, dubbing themselves “Kentucky Rising,” held a sleep-in in the state capitol building during the weekend before KFTC’s I Love Mountains Day to protest the governor’s alleged friendliness to the coal industry. Following the protest, Governor Steve Beshear (D) agreed to a visit with KFTC members in several eastern Kentucky communities. 4 During that year, KFTC also hosted nine Environmental Protection Agency officials for an “environmental justice tour of eastern Kentucky.” 5

Recent Activities

In May 2017, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth released a set of recommendations to state policymakers regarding the future of Kentucky’s energy consumption. The recommendations included an overall reduction in electricity use and a shift away from conventional energy sources. 6

In June 2017, KFTC held a protest in Paducah to oppose  a plan from Gov. Matt Bevin (R) to reform Kentucky’s tax code in order to stabilize the state’s pension system. Around the time of the protest, Bevin was in Paducah to sign the Leeper Act, a bill lifting the state’s moratorium on nuclear power. 7

At a December 2017 Hopkinsville Town Hall meeting hosted by Congressman James Comer (R-KY), representatives of KFTC including Amanda Groves, Jennifer Morrison and Lesley Garrett, voiced criticism and read letters opposing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 8


The following individuals are either directors or co-directors of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:910

  • Burt Lauderdale, Executive Director
  • Jessica Hays Lucas, Organizing Co-Director
  • Amy Hogg, Communications & Development Director
  • Beth Howard, Deputy Organizing Director for Leadership Development
  • Lisa Abbott, Deputy Organizing Director for Just Transition
  • Carissa Lenfert, Organizing Co-Director
  • Heather Roe Mahoney, Deputy Director
  • Alicia Hurle, Deputy Organizing Director for Democracy

Kentucky Rising

On the morning of Friday February 11, 2011, 14 members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, including the noted environmental activist and poet Wendell Berry, calling themselves “Kentucky Rising” brought pillows and blankets to the office of Democratic governor Steve Beshear for a sit-in to protest of mountaintop removal mining operations in Kentucky. Initially, the group demanded a meeting with the governor regarding a lawsuit he recently filed against the Environmental Protection Agency over its alleged blocking of mining permits issued by Kentucky. The group members were then granted a twenty-minute meeting with the governor, which they found unsatisfactory, since, in the meeting, the governor stated his support for mountaintop removal mining operations. 11

After a discussion with Kentucky police officers, the group was informed by the governor’s staff that they could occupy the premises “as long as they wanted.” Coverage of the sit-in, which quickly became a “sleep-in,” was featured in The Huffington Post and several radical environmentalists, including Bill McKibbenNaomi Klein, Michael Pollan, and Rick Bass, published statements expressing their solidarity with the group. 12

On Monday, February 14, during the afternoon, Beshear compromised with the protestors, agreeing to travel to eastern Kentucky within thirty days to personally look at mountaintop removal operations. Later in the month, KFTC hosted the governor on a tour of mountaintop removal sites in eastern Kentucky. 13

Kentucky Coalition

The Kentucky Coalition is the 501(c)(3) educational and research arm of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth established in 1984. Its activities include organizing campaigns and public policy advocacy in Kentucky, the Southern United States, and Appalachia. It is the fiscal agent for KFTC, and “provides financial support” for KFTC’s “charitable and educational activities.” 14 The Coalition, like its parent organization KFTC, lists Burt Lauderdale as its Executive Director. 15


In 2013, the Chorus Foundation, a left-wing private foundation founded by activist Farhad Ebrahimi, made a “ten-year funding commitment to Eastern Kentucky,” including a grant to Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (which the foundation lists as an “Anchor Organization”), as the part of the Foundation’s mission to address environmental change related to fossil fuel consumption. 16


  1. “Our History.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  2. “Our History.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  3. “Our History.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  4. Howard, Jason. “Kentucky Rises.” The Nation. February 17, 2011. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  5. “Our History.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  6. Peterson, Eric. “KFTC Releases Crowdsourced Plan For Kentucky’s Energy Future.” WKMS. May 1, 2017. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  7. Inman, Taylor. “Kentuckians For The Commonwealth Organize “Tax Justice” Protest Outside Bevin’s Bill Signing.” WKMS. June 14, 2017. Accessed April 18, 2018.
  8. Markgraf, Matt. “Congressman Comer Defends Tax Bill at Heated Hopkinsville Town Hall.” WKMS. December 4, 2017. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  9. “Staff.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  10. Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Form 990-PF, 2016, Part VII
  11. Howard, Jason. “Kentucky Rises.” The Nation. February 17, 2011. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  12. Howard, Jason. “Kentucky Rises.” The Nation. February 17, 2011. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  13. Howard, Jason. “Kentucky Rises.” The Nation. February 17, 2011. Accessed April 18, 2019.
  14. “Kentucky Coalition.” Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Accessed April 18, 2019.

  15. Kentucky Coalition, Form 990-PF, 2016, Part VII
  16. “Our Grant Making Approach.” Chorus Foundation. Accessed April 18, 2019.

Associated Organizations

  1. Kentucky Coalition (Non-profit)
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1983

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $512,457 $144,351 $644,175 $98,967 N $428,008 $61,802 $3,406 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $311,636 $264,854 $265,935 $76,922 N $219,909 $54,909 $2,269 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $240,018 $130,989 $193,169 $70,667 N $168,258 $62,793 $2,617 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $437,435 $755,715 $106,895 $85,943 N $354,131 $37,024 $2,450 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $220,605 $248,965 $396,830 $86,328 N $145,842 $67,333 $2,635 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $170,247 $222,185 $436,736 $94,483 N $93,757 $48,845 $4,115 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $544,754 $157,881 $514,861 $109,822 N $464,206 $64,905 $4,072 $0 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $244,223 $381,757 $159,412 $133,672 N $139,371 $65,705 $2,814 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

    PO BOX 1450
    LONDON, KY 40743-1450