Kentucky bill seeks new ethics rules for KFC Yum! Center board
The measure, filed this month by Republican Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville, seeks to broaden requirements that now apply to candidates, top cabinet officials and members of nine state boards, including the Public Service Commission and Kentucky Board of Education.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Members of the board overseeing the KFC Yum! Center would have to release information about their business interests, investments and potential conflicts of interest under a bill in the Kentucky General Assembly.
House Bill 300, filed this month by Republican Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville, seeks to broaden the ethics rules that now apply to candidates, top cabinet officials and members of nine state boards, including the Public Service Commission and Kentucky Board of Education.
It would require financial disclosures from members and full-time administrators of any entity that has a majority of its governing body appointed by the governor. Ten of the Louisville Arena Authority’s members are gubernatorial appointees; the other five members are named by Louisville’s mayor.
Miller said he decided to introduce the bill after learning last year from Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon that members of the quasi-governmental arena authority aren’t covered by the state ethics requirements. He stressed that he is not reacting to any specific concerns.
“They should be held to the same standard that others are because there are a lot of boards and commissions out there that they clearly are already,” Miller said.
Arena board members submitted financial disclosures only for 2006 and 2007, according to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The two-year state budget bill that initially funded the arena project in 2006 required those disclosures, but other spending bills have not.
Under Miller’s bill, arena board members would have to reveal the names of businesses in which they, their spouses or children have a $10,000 ownership stake, or at least 5 percent; all income sources of more than $1,000; and their and their spouse’s occupations, among other requirements.
They also would be forbidden from accepting gifts, such as meals or travel expenses, worth more than $25 per year from anyone that does business with or is trying to influence the arena authority.
At Monday’s meeting of the arena authority, chairman Scott C. Cox said he has spoken with Miller and supports the bill.
“My advice – I think we can all agree – pay every penny of anything you do like that,” Cox said. “We don’t want to accept a penny from anyone.”
The measure, which has been assigned to the House state government committee, may need to be amended to ensure that it doesn’t extend the ethics requirements to AEG, the Los Angeles-based sports venue operator that runs the Yum! Center.
“The intent of the legislation is to cover only the appointed members of the Louisville Arena Authority and not their contract employees,” said Kathryn H. Gabhart, executive director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
The measure would require all members of the board, even those appointed by Louisville’s mayor, to abide by the state ethics requirements, she said. (Members appointed by former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and current Mayor Greg Fischer are required to submit city ethics forms.)
Miller’s bill would not apply to foundations affiliated with public universities or the board of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, whose appointments are done by “mutual consent” of the governor and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, an ethics commission analysis says.
But it would bring the Kentucky Board of Elections under the ethics code, joining other state entities such as the Kentucky Parole Board and the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Board, whose members receive a salary or other compensation.
Elections board Ben Chandler, a Democrat who served as Kentucky Attorney General and in the U.S. House, said through a spokeswoman that he “has no problem with the legislation and would absolutely comply with any additional requirements.”
The elections board must follow other ethics rules laid out in a 2008 executive order issued by then-Gov. Steve Beshear. Among other things, its members, and members of more than 70 state policy-making and regulatory boards, are required to disclose potential conflicts of interest in writing or at meetings and agree to the $25 gift rule.