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Kentucky Governor Pulls 'Concerning' $8.5M No-Bid Contract

LRC Public Information

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration has canceled an $8.5 million (7.6 million Euro) no-bid contract with a nonprofit created and overseen by officials in former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration who also approved the contract, WDRB-TV reports.

Despite concerns about awarding a no-bid contract to a private entity controlled by the government officials in charge of the contract, the General Assembly’s contracts review committee ultimately signed off on the plan in July.



Speaking to reporters on Monday, Beshear called the arrangement with the Commonwealth Center for Commercialization Inc., or C3, “very concerning.”

“My first goal was to shut down a corporation created by members of economic development that then ran the corporation itself,” the Democratic governor said. “To award a no-bid contract to yourself is something I don’t think ought to happen in Kentucky.”

C3’s interim CEO is Brian Mefford, who also served as executive director of the Economic Development Cabinet’s Office of Entrepreneurship and “KY Innovation” network when he signed the $8.5 million contract on behalf of C3. Mefford only left his position with the state when Beshear took office in early December after a razor-thin victory over Bevin, a Republican. Mefford has said he ran C3 as a volunteer on top of his work for the state.

Terry Gill, who was Bevin’s Economic Development Cabinet secretary, signed off on the C3 contract shortly before leaving that post in May. Both Mefford and Gill are founding board members of C3.

Mefford has previously said that the Bevin economic development cabinet set up C3 as an alternative to the the Lexington-based Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., which had historically handled most of the state’s entrepreneurial and innovation programs. That company was founded by a Beshear ally, Kris Kimel, who left KSTC in 2018.

Kimel was named to Beshear’s gubernatorial transition team last month and also worked for Beshear’s father, Steve Beshear, when the elder Beshear was lieutenant governor in the 1980s.

Returning the C3 work to KSTC is an option, Beshear said on Monday, but he added that nothing is decided.

“We’re just going to look for the approach that has the maximum effectiveness,” he said.

Beshear’s economic development cabinet said in a letter last week that it is terminating the C3 contract effective Jan. 25.