Sen. Thayer discloses his consulting firm clients, including two Central Kentucky horse farms

02/09/2012 08:49 AM

Seeking to quell questions about potential conflicts of interest with sponsoring a measure to expand gambling, Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, disclosed the names of the four clients of his consulting business.

His firm, Thayer Communications and Consulting LLC, works for two Central Kentucky horse breeders, a Louisiana-based horse farm and the Kentucky Speedway motorsports racetrack.

Thayer has said he is likely to carry the governor’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling. The measure is expected to allow up to five casinos at racetracks and up to two free-standing casinos.

Thayer’s clients became an issue after a Frankfort-based pastor raised questions about whether Thayer might personally benefit if his firm represented horse industry clients that could directly gain if Kentucky approves expanded gambling, as the Herald-Leader first reported. . That prompted Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to rush to his defense.

Thayer’s client lists include two farms whose owners have politically supported both Thayer and Beshear in the past, as well as an out-of-state farm:

  • — Lexington’s Millennium Farms, which is owned by Rosendo Parra of Austin, Texas. A review of campaign contributions shows that Parra and his wife, Cheryl, gave a total of $2,000 to Thayer in 2008. Millennium’s farm manager, Bobby Miller, gave Beshear $500 in 2007. Parra issued a statement, as well:

“Mr. Thayer is in my employ simply because of his knowledge of the industry and his Marketing/Public Relations expertise and for no other reason. There are no projects that Mr. Thayer does for my farm that have an impact on the legislative process, nor am I the beneficiary of that process,” Parra said.

  • — Wintergreen Stallion Station in Midway. It is owned by John Greely. He contributed a total of $1,400 to Thayer between 2006 and 2011 and gave Beshear’s campaigns $2,000 between 2007 and 2011.
  • — Whispering Oaks Farm in Carencro, La. It is owned by Carrol Castille, who frequently raced horses in the Breeder’s Cup. Thayer previously worked as public relations director for the Breeder’s Cup.
  • — The Kentucky Speedway motorsports racetrack in Sparta.

Thayer requested a legislative ethics commission opinion about whether he could proceed with carrying the constitutional amendment if it would benefit the horse industry. (You can read the letter on PageOne Kentucky. )

“The implication that a legislator who wants to allow the people to decide an issue is somehow engaging in a conflict of interest is ludicrous. This is why more and more people don’t want to participate in politics these days,” Thayer said in the statement Thursday. “Personally destroying someone’s reputation is somehow more acceptable than just debating the issues and letting the best ideas rise to the top. I am offended that my integrity was called into question but am happy to put any questions to rest in the interest of moving this issue forward.”

Thayer hasn’t disclosed any of the details of the constitutional amendment, which requires approval of three-fifths of each legislative chamber, then ratification of voters.

The measure’s unveiling keeps getting pushed back because of uncertainty over the candidate filing deadline, as Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson explained on Pure Politics this week.

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