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Ethics Reporter: State has approved over $170 million in taxpayer assistance to businesses

In the first 10 months of this year, Kentucky state government has approved more than $170 million in taxpayer assistance to businesses that are locating, expanding, or training employees in the state, according to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The biggest award approved so far this year by the Kentucky Economic Development and Finance Authority is $14 million for Clinical Trial Services, Inc. for a headquarters in Covington. $13.2 million was approved for Australian-based Computershare, a financial transaction company that opened a Louisville office last year.


Some $13 million will go to Custom Food Products for an expansion of its plant in Bath County. Custom Foods is a subsidiary of CTI Foods, which is owned in majority by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Goldman Sachs & Co. $12 million will go to Champion Petfoods in Logan County.

Ford Motor Co. was approved this year to receive $10.2 million in public money to train employees at its Jefferson County facilities. In 2007, Ford was approved to get $315 million from the state. Evolent Health, a healthcare consulting company, was approved for $10 million for a regional office in Louisville.

Other large awards of tax money will go to Bowling Green Metalforming ($10 million + $400,000 in training funds); More Than A Bakery, LLC in Woodford County ($8 million); Newly Weds Foods in Boone County ($6 million); Thai Summit Kentucky, an auto supplier in Bardstown ($5 million); Quiver Ventures in Bowling Green, a partnership between European aluminum company Constellium N.V. and Japanese aluminum company UACJ Corp. ($4.5 million); Hogan Lovells, a multinational law firm for a service center in Louisville ($4 million); and RxCrossroads in Louisville, which provides services to pharmaceutical medical device manufacturers ($4 million).

Also approved this year: Teleperformance, a French company that opened a call center in Louisville ($3.8 million); Saputo Dairy Foods USA in Calloway County, part of a large Canadian dairy processor ($3.5 million); Firstsource Group USA ($3 million); General Motors, for expansion of its assembly plant in Bowling Green ($3 million); Gibbs Die Casting in Henderson ($3 million); and three Boone County businesses: Mubea Tailor Rolled Blanks, a German manufacturer ($2.6 million); TeeSpring, which makes custom t-shirts ($2.5 million); Messier-Bugatti USA, a French company for its Safran Landing Systems facility ($2.5 million).

Businesses that are approved to get $2 million awards include: Sazerac Distillers in Owensboro; Commercial Specialty Truck Holdings in Harrison County; GreenSky, which operates paperless point-of-sale payment and credit platforms from Kenton County; JM Smucker, which makes Jif peanut butter in Lexington.

Lobbying Expenses

When the General Assembly is not in session, one of the ways for businesses and organizations that employ lobbyists to build relationships is to conduct events to which legislators are invited.

In the summer, these events are conducted in conjunction with annual meetings of national or regional legislative organizations.  For example, at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) meeting in Chicago, lobbyists’ employers spent $10,184 on Kentucky Night; at the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) in Lexington, $6,973 was spent on Kentucky Night at the Boone Faculty Center; $166 was spent at the Kentucky Night at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Indianapolis; and at the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in Portland, Oregon, $888 was spent.

Also, at SLC, $12,000 was spent on Family Night at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort; $3,218 was spent at the NCSL Senate Dinner; $4,619 at SLC’s Mayoral Dinner; and $632 at ALEC’s Senate Dinner.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation spent $5,319 on a country ham breakfast and picnic at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center; a Derby Brunch was held in Louisville, and employers spent $5,106 on legislators; the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce held a Business Summit and spent $2,667; and $1,542 was spent by General Motors for a lunch at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green.

From Legislative Ethics Commission Communications

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