The fallout from the Kentucky Auditor Crit Luallen’s examination of Metro government continues to spill into the 2010 mayoral campaign. Citing his activism over the city’s controversial $950,000 loan agreement with The Cordish Cos., which the state auditor criticized, Republican mayoral candidate Chris Thieneman has put out a new campaign advertisement trumpeting the virtues of transparency.
From the Thieneman campaign:
Though he provides no specific policies to promote open government in the advertisement, Thieneman has been at the front lines in the fight for more transparency.
Last year, the local developer was set to file a lawsuit against the city over the loan agreement, but withheld the suit while waiting for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to issue an opinion on the deal. Eventually the attorney general said that Mayor Jerry Abramson acted in accordance with the law when he single-handedly transferred public funds to refurbish a downtown club on Fourth Street Live.
However, the state auditor’s report criticized the city for entering the deal with a non-audit clause and has given the controversial decision new life in the race for the Mayor’s Office. Now the questions Thieneman initially raised in the lawsuit will transfer to his candidacy.
For instance, the suit would have asked the court if public officials can enter confidentiality agreements that exempts them and their findings from open records law. That message is specifically aimed at Democratic mayoral candidate and Metro Councilman David Tandy, D-4, who as council president signed a contract with the Baltimore-based developer that barred him from discussing the loan in detail.
“It certainly should be highlighted,” says Michael Wray, Thieneman’s campaign manager. “We’re not running against Mr. Tandy, obviously, but the fact that a publicly elected official signed an agreement to protect a corporation and information that led to the abuse of taxpayer dollars is more than troubling.”