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Kampis: KentuckyWired Scandal Continues with Auditor’s Report

November 1, 2018

In a recent piece for the American Spectator, Johnny Kampis of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation delves into the many issues that plague the KentuckyWired network and its governing body, the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA).

A report released last month by state auditor Mike Harmon indicated that Kentucky officials didn’t properly vet the estimates provided by Australian-based Macquarie Infrastructure Developments LLC and other contractors who were originally supposed to carry the debt burden on this project.

In Kampis’ report, Harmon is quoted as saying that “Misled does really not do justice for this bait-and-switch on the taxpayers.”

The audit also found that changes in the plans for KentuckyWired shifted the burden of costs from private partners to taxpayers when state officials decided to take advantage of tax-exempt bonds by creating KentuckyWired Infrastructure Company, a nonprofit corporation.

Auditors uncovered at least three written warnings given to Kentucky officials before the project agreements were signed.

KentuckyWired was started by former Governor Steve Beshear, with the promise the network would provide connectivity to rural areas and present economic opportunity for the Commonwealth. Instead, according to Kampis, it is proving a boondoggle.

While current Governor Matt Bevin has considered terminating the project, his administration expressed concerns about the costs being too great and about impacts on bond ratings.

It seems that although this project was set up to be a public-private partnership, private partners will be responsible for less than 2 percent of the project’s costs, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the rest.