FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Executive Branch Ethics Commission fined former Tourism Commissioner Mike Cooper $2,000 on Monday in an agreement that resolved ethics charges.
Cooper, who resigned in February, was accused of misusing state resources for his own financial gain.
The ethics commission also publicly reprimanded Cooper, who waived his right to appeal.
Cooper acknowledged in the settlement agreement that he had traveled to England and participated in events organized by GOSH PR, a British marking firm that had a contract with the Kentucky Department of Tourism. The firm paid about $750 for Cooper's meals, taxi rides and other incidentals during the trip.
Though he initially said he made the trip for personal and not state reasons, Cooper later approved an invoice for the Department of Tourism to reimburse GOSH PR for the expenses.
Kentucky's ethics rules prohibit executive branch officials from accepting gifts of more than $25 a year from state contractors.
The panel also found that Cooper charged personal items to a state-issued credit card and conducted personal business while on approved state travel.
In an initial response to the ethics commission's inquiry, Cooper's lawyer, Guthrie True of Frankfort, had denied all the charges. But True said Cooper later opted to accept the settlement and move on.
"For the sake of he and his family, he just wanted to put it behind him and be done with it," True said.
Cooper's resignation followed a report by The Lexington Herald-Leader that he oversaw a $179,900-a-year contract with GOSH PR to market Kentucky attractions in England. In one article on that website, "Roadkill Bingo" was promoted as a Kentucky attraction.
That article, which suggested counting dead animals along Kentucky roadways as a car game, raised the ire of some state officials.
Also Monday, the ethics commission fined former environmental inspector Dallas Edward Kelly $500 and issued a public reprimand for falsifying timesheets, vehicle logs and mine reports.
In an agreement that settled the charges, the panel also reprimanded Kelly for claiming to have done inspections that he hadn't actually been performed, filling out a mine report with inaccuracies, and failing to fulfill his job duties while being paid.