Barren County Economic Authority addresses contribution to DGA

A contribution worth $12,500 was made to the Democratic Governors Association was linked back to the Barren County Economic Authority.
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 11:57 AM CDT
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GLASGOW, Ky. (WBKO) – A March contribution made to the Democratic Governors Association was linked back to the Barren County Economic Authority.

A contribution worth $12,500 was listed on a semi-annual disclosure report filed with the IRS in late July. The contributor was listed as the Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development and Economic Authority.

The DGA is an independent voluntary political organization organized to support Democratic governors and candidates across the nation, according to their website.

The BCEA board of directors held a meeting on Friday morning in Glasgow and addressed the contribution at the beginning of the meeting.

“First, as chairman of the Barren County Economics Authority, I now recognized that BCEA’s collaboration with a private sector individual to facilitate this earmarked independent expenditure to a political organization was inappropriate and reflects poorly on this organization,” said David Peterson, the chairperson of the BCEA Board of Directors.

The remarks were delivered from a prepared statement, which was provided to WBKO News after the meeting.

The BCEA made the contribution to the DGA in order to send Maureen Carpenter, the BCEA executive director, and her husband to the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Governor’s Derby Gala and the Kentucky Derby. The contribution to the DGA was required in order to go to the gala, Carpenter said.

A member of Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration reached out to Larry D. Glass, a Glasgow-area businessman and now member of the BCEA, to ask if he would like to represent Barren County at the gala.

“Mr. Glass was not interested in attending that event himself, but reached out to Maureen Carpenter to see if she would be interested in attending on behalf of BCEA since she would be the clear point of contact for economic development networking,” Peterson said.

Carpenter told WBKO News senior members of the state’s economic development sector would be at the gala. Foreign investors were also expected to be in attendance.

Glass paid for the event tickets and the money was passed through the BCEA and on to the DGA.

“This is all on me. This is my fault. I take full responsibility for it,” Glass said. “My goal is to create a situation where we can be competitive with the other 119 counties in the state of Kentucky...I think anyone who knows me very well knows what I’m all about.”

The Barren County Industrial Development and Economic Authority (IDEA) is a quasi-governmental agency, which means it is supported partly by tax dollars.

Carpenter said the money passed through the BCEA because it was treated as a business expense.

“Hopefully, with this context in mind, the citizens of Barren County will see that there was never any intent to violate any election or campaign laws or regulations, or to engage in activities that would not benefit the BCEA goals and objectives of growing the Barren County economy,” the statement said.

DGA Communications Director Sam Newton said in a statement to WBKO News, “DGA does not accept earmarked contributions; this contribution was for DGA’s general use and not earmarked for use in Kentucky.”

The BCEA is expected to convene its administration committee next week to develop “internal safeguards to assure something like this does not occur again.”

One of the expected policies to be implemented is a policy prohibiting any participation by the BCEA in political campaign activities.