Thursday, May 17, 2001

Derby tickets available to Patton's associates




The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Some of Gov. Paul Patton's top political supporters and lobbyists with close ties to his administration were among people who bought Kentucky Derby tickets from the governor's office.

        Those able to buy the coveted tickets at face value from Gov. Patton's office this year included Leonard Lawson, chairman of Mountain Enterprises road-paving firm, and Rodney Ratliff, state government's chief landlord, The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported Wednesday.

Patton
Patton
        The two are among top contributors to Gov. Patton's political committees. Mr. Lawson is state government's biggest road contractor. Mr. Ratliff leases a half-million square feet of office and warehouse space to state government.

        Some top lobbyists also bought tickets through Gov. Patton's office, including former state Democratic Party chairman Terry McBrayer and Georgetown car dealer Frank Shoop, who is Gov. Patton's chief political fund-raiser and chairman of the Kentucky Racing Commission.

        Nicole Palya, the National Rifle Association's liaison for Kentucky, also got Derby tickets from Patton's office.

        Gov. Patton receives an annual allotment of tickets from Churchill Downs. The governor controlled at least 500 tickets to this year's Derby, about the same as in the past, and allocated a large share to friends, political supporters and lobbyists.

        Gov. Patton was unavailable for comment on this year's list of ticket buyers. His spokesman, Rusty Cheuvront, on Tuesday echoed the governor's past comments that business guests cannot be entertained in a vacuum, so Gov. Patton invites friends who are successful business people to buy tickets.

        “The Derby is an extraordinary opportunity for the governor to entertain economic-development guests and tourism-development guests,” Mr. Cheuvront said. “What better group to have join them than your friends and supporters?”

        The tickets are sold at face value, with checks written to Churchill Downs and collected by the governor's office.

        The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has said the practice does not violate state government's code of ethics. But the commission said it “does not believe that the allocation of tickets to political supporters is advantageous to the entire Commonwealth” and suggested the governor reduce the number of tickets he controls and be “more judicious” in deciding who can buy them.

        Gov. Patton agreed with the commission's suggestion of releasing the names of people who buy Derby tickets through his office but has shunned the other suggestions.

        In the wake of the commission's suggestions two years ago, Gov. Patton said: “We believe it is inappropriate for the commission to recommend that we preclude friends of this administration from participating in this program to promote Kentucky. If we took the attitude that once you become a supporter of this administration we can no longer associate with you, we would have few friends.”

        Churchill Downs officials declined to release the specific number and location of tickets allotted to the governor's office, and officials in the governor's office had no full accounting of the tickets.

        The office released only a list of names of people who bought the tickets it handled for both the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, run at Churchill Downs the day before the Derby.

        The list included 84 names. Thirty-three are state officials.

       



Another suspect shot
Police policy says shooting must be justifiable
RADEL: Shooting burns questions in brain
A snapshot of who we are
Census show Tristate graying
Home buyers look outward, fuel suburbs
Schnitzel-and-a-song landmark closing
Sealed records ignite conflict
Campbell County plans capital fund
- Derby tickets available to Patton's associates
Drug-alcohol lab technician fired
Engineer's error let train go
Ex-officer accused in sex case
Family, teachers recall girl's basketball prowess
Hog manure covers high school; seniors arrested
Holmes senior one of 141 U.S. presidential scholars
Lebanon in quandry over house
Lebanon, Milford plan new schools
Lemon Township man accused in wife's death
Man freed after trial in three killings
Many helpers make playground worth the work
New boss faces issue
OMI head says Shirey interfered in investigation
Prison goes on alert after two stabbings
PULFER: Grieving mom
Regional jail back on table
Sands decision expected Monday
Scott's mental health a concern
Study shows unfunded mandates
Summer job plan grows into wider opportunities
Topless exposure was legal, sheriff says
Town can't decide on mayor, so governor will
UK hopes historic 1882 building can be repaired
Videos therapeutic, jury in porn trial told
Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report