Mike Cooper resigned his position as Kentucky Tourism Commissioner after he violated state ethics laws. Cooper made an unauthorized trip to London to meet with Gosh P.R. firm. Kentucky Tourism officials are also displeased with the description of “Roadkill Bingo” on Gosh P.R.’s website stating that it is factually inaccurate and offensive to the state and people of Kentucky.
Resignation of Mike Cooper
Mike Cooper resigned on February 29th, 2012 as Kentucky Tourism Commissioner after he was involved in overseeing a controversial $179,900 contract with British marketing firm, Gosh P.R. On February 28th it was reported that Gosh P.R. paid for Cooper’s event tickets, expenses, and meals while he was in London on an unauthorized visit in June of 2011. This is considered to be a state ethics violation and the cabinet has ordered Cooper to repay all the money he was loaned by Gosh P.R. The controversy continues with the content about a game called “Roadkill Bingo” that is featured on Gosh P.R.’s website as one of Kentucky’s tourist attractions. “Roadkill Bingo” is a game where travelers count how many deceased animals they encounter on Kentucky highways. The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of Kentucky stated that this content is offensive, stereotypical, and factually incorrect. The Cabinet demanded that the website be disabled on February 28th, 2012 and the next day the Cabinet also dissolved their contract with Gosh P.R. The cost of the contract since 2008 is $647,769 and the website cost the state of Kentucky $20,000 per year. After the contract was dissolved Cooper announced he is resigning which will be effective on March 15th, 2012. Cooper received $111,353 per year in income as the Kentucky Tourism Commissioner.
Cooper’s Additional Transgressions
In December 2007, Cooper was made Kentucky Tourism Commissioner and served for 2 years before any problems arose. In 2009 until present, Cooper was reprimanded by the Tourism Cabinet and his pay was withheld for 5 days because he travelled without authorization and misused his credit card given to him by the state. Cooper had been monitoring Gosh P.R.’s website and had previously suggested corrections but it seems he stopped monitoring the site since the “Roadkill Bingo” article was posted at the end of 2011. Tourism Cabinet members have stated that their contract with Gosh P.R. has been a great waste of taxpayers’ money because the website has simply promoted offensive stereotypes and not the true essence of Kentucky.