Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)


March 7, 2012

Beshear learns a tough truth about friends

March 7, 2012 —     Our greatest challenge in writing this editorial was in determining if “knucklehead” is written as one word or as two words or as a hyphenation.

    As you see, one word is the preferred usage and that’s OK with us.

    Today we are announcing that Mike Cooper, former Kentucky tourism commissioner, is the first winner of this year’s Knucklehead Award.

    He resigned last week before he could be fired for all or some of the following missteps in an appointed position that paid him $111,353 yearly:

• He accepted $735 in gift expenses from a state contractor despite the fact that state ethics laws limit such gifts to $25.

• He improperly used his state-issued credit card for personal business.

• He submitted undocumented expenses for trips to Las Vegas, London and Bonita Springs, Fla.

• He failed to supervise a British public relations firm which was paid $179,900 yearly – and which he helped select – to promote Kentucky tourism in Great Britain. The firm had the gall to put up a web site promoting “Roadkill Bingo”on road trips in the Bluegrass State. Those clever Brits also wrote about “Hazzard County” which doesn’t exist in Kentucky. The old TV show was based on a county in Georgia. History buffs no doubt cringed at references to the “Louis and Clark” expedition. They also moved Col. Harland Sanders’ original fried chicken location from Corbin to London.

    The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet recently demanded that the web site be taken down. Then they canceled the firm’s contract. But they already have been paid $647,769 to sell Kentucky to British travelers.

    It was reported that the derogatory information about our state was available to the world to see for at least two months and perhaps as long as two years.

    Why was Cooper or someone else in the Cabinet not monitoring that web site?  He liked the firm so much he had even promised to increase their fee.

    In our view, this is simply another case of a political operative helping elect a governor and then being rewarded with a cushy state job.

    To be fair, we note that Cooper is not the first political appointee to embarrass his or her boss.

    Nor is Steve Beshear the first governor to misjudge the character of someone he appointed to an important position.

    However, we are disappointed that no one in authority was observant enough to fire this guy before his state government career died of self-inflicted wounds.

    Perhaps the Beshear folks have never heard the age-old expression:

    “Lord protect me from my friends.”

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