Remember the Ring Road debacle we told you about a couple weeks ago? Click here to read all about it.
The Executive Branch Ethics Commission issued Advisory Opinion 09-16 on March 27, 2009, amending Advisory Opinion 08-11, for Transportation Secretary Joe Prather. And it’s rather damning.
Here are the key opinions:
- May Transportation Cabinet officials other than the Secretary make decisions with respect to a highway project near real property owned by the Secretary? YES
- In the event that discretionary decisions regarding the highway project near real property owned by the Secretary are referred to a neutral third party, may Transportation Cabinet employees provide technical expertise to the neutral third party? YES
- May the Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet testify before Legislative committees regarding other projects named in the Six Year Road Plan? YES
- May other Transportation Cabinet employees testify before Legislative committees regarding projects named in the Six Year Road plan if questions arise regarding the road project near real property owned by the Secretary? YES
- Is it necessary for the Secretary and other Transportation Cabinet officials to abstain from matters related to other road projects that appear in the Six Year Road Plan and are in the same county as the real property owned by the Secretary? NO
Puppies and rainbows, right? Yeah. Until you get further into the document and examine what the Commission had to say in detail. Here are some highlights:
You also request clarification of Advisory Opinion 08-11 addressing other property that you own near a road project. The Commission advised in that opinion that you and all employees under your direct or indirect supervision should abstain from any involvement in future discretionary decisions that might affect property values. You have complied with Advisory Opinion 08-11 by abstaining from making decisions affecting the property. You state that an employee in the Governor’s Office acts in your stead. However, the practical implications of precluding all Transportation Cabinet employees from being involved in the decisions affecting the project is that an employee in the Governor’s Office, who is not an engineer and has no expertise in road building, is making decisions on the project without the ability to obtain technical advice from Transportation Cabinet employees.
The issue before the Commission is how to manage the Secretary’s conflict of interest while maintaining to the extent possible, the Transportation Cabinet’s established process for building roads. You cannot be involved in making decisions regarding the project, and you have appropriately abstained in writing from action on official decisions relating to the properties. KRS 11A.020 (3) requires your superior to designate an impartial third party to make decisions on the matters included in your written abstention. Your supervisor is the Secretary of the Governor’s Cabinet, with whom you jointly own property and have other common business interests. The Governor, as supervisor of the Secretary of the Governor’s Cabinet, should designate someone who does not report to you and who also does not report to the Secretary of the Cabinet to make decisions regarding the road projects included in your written abstentions.
Read the entire ethics opinion by clicking here (PDF Link).
Read the rest of this ethics mess after the jump…
Also on March 27th, the EBEC issued Advisory Opinion 09-17 to Larry Hayes, Secretary of the Governor’s Cabinet.
The two questions raised were about Hayes’ co-ownership of property with Prather and whether or not it creates issues with Ethics re: Ring Road and whether or not Hayes’ involvement as Secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development would be a problem with respect to infrastructure grants for an industrial site near the property Hayes & Prather/Prather’s family own. Both decisions were “no,” assuming there’s no direct involvement on Hayes’ behalf.
But the advisory opinion goes on in detail:
You seek advice from the Commission regarding the impact that two parcels of land in which you have an ownership interest located near a 1550 acre industrial site that was originally purchased by the state and is now owned by Hardin County and managed by an industrial authority may have on your duties in those roles. You share ownership of these parcels with the Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet (“Transportation”) or members of his family. An interchange off I-65 and a new road extending from the new interchange to the industrial site were added to Transportation’s Six Year Road Plan in 2002. The interchange and new road construction are now currently Transportation’s list of active design projects. The Secretary of Transportation has also requested an opinion regarding this matter.
It is the opinion of the Commission that since you are the direct line supervisor of the Transportation Secretary that the same restrictions apply to you that apply to him due to your ownership interest in the property in the vicinity of the highway project. While Advisory Opinion 09-16 provides a more detailed discussion, in summary you cannot be involved in making decisions regarding the highway project, and must abstain in writing from action on official decisions that could affect your properties in any way. KRS 11A.020(3) requires your superior to designate an impartial third party to make decisions on the matters included in your written abstention. Thus the Governor, as your superior, should designate someone who does not report to you to make decisions regarding the road projects in question should the need arise.
In light of your ownership interest in the properties located near the Hardin County industrial site, which could, if not directly, certainly indirectly benefit from the successful development of the site, as long as you remain interim Secretary of Economic Development, you should abstain from any involvement in matters relating thereto just as you must do in your position as Secretary of the Executive Cabinet.
Read that entire opinion by clicking here (PDF Link).
Everyone we’ve spoken with suspected that Joe Prather and Larry Hayes had a lot more to do with this shiz than was previously revealed. So make sure you check the date of these attachments.
Why did they wait so late into the lawsuit and so late into the legislative session to make this move?
Now we know why Transportation was so gung ho about everything.
And something doesn’t smell so, how should we put it, appetizing.