Kentucky Exposition Center

The Kentucky Exposition Center (WDRB file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky State Fair Board has the "exclusive ability" under state law to hire its chief executive, Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office ruled in an opinion issued Friday. 

The decision comes a day after several members of the board questioned why Gov. Andy Beshear's administration had not approved a contract renewal for David Beck, president and CEO of Kentucky Venues, which operates the fair board's properties. 

The fair board agreed in April to a two-year extension for Beck, who was hired in 2018. But fair board member Ryan Quarles, Kentucky's agriculture commissioner, reminded his colleagues Thursday that state officials had yet to act ahead of the contract expiring on June 30. 

Quarles wrote to Cameron's office after the meeting, claiming that Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Holly M. Johnson hadn't yet signed the extension. In his letter, Quarles wrote that he believed that Johnson is required to either sign the renewal or reject it and explain why "within a reasonable time after receiving it."

Quarles asked for an opinion clarifying who actually can hire the fair board's top executive.

Besides giving that authority to the fair board, the opinion from Cameron's office concluded that Johnson has no role in reviewing or approving the contract unless the legislature's contract review committee fails to endorse the agreement.

The committee has yet to review the contract, according to online records.

On Thursday, the Finance Cabinet directed a reporter to the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, which has administrative oversight of the fair board. 

A Tourism Cabinet spokeswoman said Friday that she was looking into the status of where Beck's contract extension stands. 

On a separate matter, the Attorney General's opinion concluded that the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission also has the sole authority to appoint its commissioner. 

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