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State Sen. McDaniel calls for criminal probe into Braidy Industry, after reports of Bouchard deception

Kentucky Today

The head of the Kentucky Senate Appropriation Committee is calling for a criminal probe into Braidy Industries, amid fallout from revelations made in Delaware court filings, reported Henry Culvyhouse in the Ashland Daily Independent.

Northern Kentucky’s 
Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Taylor Mill) told WDRB in Louisville this week that he is asking Attorney General Daniel Cameron to initiate an investigation into the company, after reports of deception on the part of ex-CEO Craig Bouchard. The company was supposed to build an aluminum mill off the Industrial Parkway but has stalled due to issues raising capital. A report published by The Daily Independent alleged Bouchard had misled investors, board members, and the public about the financial health of the company.

WDRB reported that Cameron’s office has confirmed it is working with the Cabinet for Economic Development to examine documents relating to the Braidy deal.

Braidy Industries founder Craig Bouchard (Photo by Mark Maynard, Kentucky Today)

Gov. Andy Beshear has also weighed in, stating that if the mill project doesn’t move forward, “I’m going to get our money back,” referencing the $15 million investment made by the Matt Bevin administration into Braidy.

During a phone interview with The Daily Independent Thursday, McDaniel said he is calling for the probe because he wants “to get to the bottom of this.”

“Ultimately I want to get this mill built,” he said. “But I want to see if there’s any criminal wrongdoing here. We have a dual tragedy here: financial and people’s hopes.”

State Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), whose district includes the site where the mill is slated to be built, said she feels like it’s a little premature to be asking for a criminal probe.

“I understand the frustration, but in the law, there’s a threshold for criminal fraud that has to be met,” she said. “I still need more information before I can say that’s warranted. But if the attorney general wants to move forward, I will support him 100%. After all, I vote to fund his office.”

Webb also pointed out that Braidy Industries has not defaulted on the terms of the investment.

Kentucky Today file photo

McDaniel said in retrospect, lawmakers could’ve asked for more specifics. However, the senator said he and his colleagues relied on the information provided by the Economic Development Cabinet.

“We have an expectation that the cabinet will do its due diligence. It’s not our job to do the research they do,” he said. “When this was presented to us, all we knew was there was a company that was coming to an economically depressed region of the state that could employ a lot of people.”

Webb said it’s common for lawmakers to rely on information furnished by the cabinet.

“This is a pet peeve of mine I’ve had for years because I want to know all the information,” she said. “But in this case, not to throw the Republicans under the bus, they had more information than we in the minority did. It was an eleventh-hour deal based off a little information. This isn’t the first time that’s happened.”

Webb said she voted on the measure based on what she knew, but she has always wanted new information.

According to McDaniel, Braidy’s promise to provide quarterly updates during a February committee hearing was reneged.

“They’re going to provide the information whenever they feel like it, so for now we’re working with economic development on getting information,” he said.

McDaniel ran against Gov. Bevin as a running mate of Jamie Comer in the 2015 primary, however, he said the call for a probe isn’t politically motivated.

“No one in this Commonwealth is more politically done than Matt Bevin,” he said. “This is about a bad business deal.”

This story, distributed by Kentucky Today, was first reported in The Ashland Daily Independent by Henry Culveyhouse.

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One Comment

  1. Mark Nolan says:

    Is it perhaps the case that Sen. Webb does not want a criminal probe for personal reasons?

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