Bevin administration to go to court to keep identities of Braidy Industries investors secret
Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration cannot shield the identities of the shareholders of Braidy Industries Inc., the company in which the state invested $15 million of taxpayer funds last spring, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office has ruled.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration cannot shield the identities of the shareholders of Braidy Industries Inc., the company in which the state invested $15 million of taxpayer funds last spring, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office has ruled.
But rather than revealing the other investors in the company, Bevin’s economic development cabinet plans to take the dispute with The Courier-Journal to court, according to a spokesman.
Braidy Industries, formed earlier this year, plans to build a $1.3 billion aluminum rolling mill in Greenup County by 2020.
To land the plant and its roughly 500 jobs in Kentucky, Bevin’s administration used $15 million in borrowed state money to buy stock in Braidy Industries, giving taxpayers an ownership stake of at 20 percent of the company.
Public documents indicate there are at least a handful of other investors in Braidy Industries besides state government and Braidy founder Craig T. Bouchard, but Bevin’s administration has withheld the identities of those investors.
In an opinion dated Oct. 3, Beshear’s office sided with Courier-Journal reporter Tom Loftus, who challenged the administration’s claim that the other investors’ identities can be shielded under exceptions to the state’s public records law for companies seeking economic development incentives.
James Herrick, an assistant attorney general, wrote in the opinion that the $15 million infusion represents “an extraordinary investment of public funds in Braidy” and makes the identities of the other investors a matter of public interest.
“(T)he Commonwealth has conferred a direct benefit on the Braidy shareholders in the form of a capital injection into Braidy,” Herrick wrote. “Moreover, the Commonwealth is now in business with those shareholders. This creates a heightened public interest in disclosure.”
But the state Cabinet for Economic Development plans to appeal the decision to Franklin County Circuit Court, spokesman Jack Mazurak said.
“We are fully confident the information not disclosed is protected under the cited exemptions (to the Kentucky Open Records Act),” Mazurak said in an email.