Editorials

Governor's son should not work on deals with state

Gov. Steve Beshear's son should not have been representing a company that was applying for millions in economic tax incentives from the state of Kentucky.

Louisville attorney Andrew Beshear represents UFLEX Ltd. of India, a company that is in line to collect $20 million in tax breaks from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. Andrew's father, the governor, oversees the cabinet, both as chief executive of the state and as chairman of the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board which is set up to guide the cabinet. In addition, Larry Hayes, Kentucky's economic development secretary, was appointed by the elder Beshear and serves at his pleasure.

It's just too close for comfort.

There is no indication that any laws were broken or guidelines ignored, or that UFLEX was not an appropriate recipient of economic incentives. Likewise, no one has called Andrew Beshear's abilities as an attorney into question.

But that's not the point. The highest ethical standards demand not only avoiding conflicts of interest but also avoiding the appearance of and potential for a conflict of interest. It's the only way to convince taxpayers that government decisions are made purely to serve the highest public interest.

Is it fair that Andrew Beshear should lose out on business just because his dad is governor? Perhaps not. But that's part of the baggage that comes with having a family member in public office. It's common and inescapable that children, both minors and adults, benefit and suffer from the jobs their parents take on. While his father is governor, Andrew Beshear should be no exception.

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