The Lincoln fetish

“It’s not legal, not appropriate use of public funds, and a deep insult to non-profit organizations across the Commonwealth who have worked to legally get, or even have just thought about getting, specialty plates,” said Don Shelton, spokesman for the Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans. “In the process of studying the procedures necessary to get a specialty plate for our non-profit, we stumbled across a plate sponsored by the Kentucky Historical Society that didn’t go through the proper processes,” Shelton continued.

Records show that the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission voted $22,500 of money the legislature budgeted to it, for use by the Kentucky Historical Society to apply for a Lincoln Bicentennial specialty license plate. The law, however, also requires a minimum of 900 individual applications to accompany the overall plate application, from citizens actually planning to purchase the plates for their vehicles. The Transportation Cabinet confirmed in the SCV’s investigation that instead of 900 or more individual applications, there were none.

While the Transportation Cabinet so far has not answered an Open Records request for the number of the Lincoln plates that have been issued, the number appears to be very small. “Basically, it appears that the taxpayers have shelled out $22,500 so a few people could have, in essence, ‘vanity’ plates,” said Shelton. “The subject of the plate isn’t important,” he continued. “It might even be a nice plate to have. What is important is that the law was circumvented, and taxpayer money was wasted to do it.”

In the wake of this scandal, the Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans calls for the co-chairs of the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Tommy Turner and State Senator Dan Kelly, and Executive Director of the Kentucky Historical Society, Kent Whitworth, to resign or be replaced. “We believe these men knew the law, yet circumvented it,” said Shelton. The Kentucky SCV also calls for the funding and expenditures of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to be reviewed, in light of this irregularity, and for an investigation to see how this slipped through the Transportation Cabinet. “We expect other non-profits to make the same demands as they learn about this; it affects us all,” Shelton concluded.

The above article is from the Fall 2007 issue of The Lost Cause, published three times a year by the Kentucky Division, SCV, P.O. Box 807, Nicholasville, Kentucky 40340