Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad resigned Thursday from his seat on the board of directors of the Boyle County Industrial Foundation, effective immediately.
In a letter addressed to Jody Lassiter, who serves as CEO of both the industrial foundation and the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, Hunstad said he was stepping down because he “determined the BCIF is a privately-owned ‘for profit’ corporation and not a non-profit organization as represented.”
The Kentucky Secretary of State website lists the Boyle County Industrial Foundation Inc. as a profit corporation; this information led to Hunstad’s decision to resign. However, the website itself warns visitors that the information may not be accurate.
The industrial foundation as well as the EDP file separate Form 990s with the Internal Revenue Service, according to a reporter’s audit of electronic forms for non-profit organizations available through the GuideStar Directory of Charities. GuideStar furnishes electronic and print information regarding non-profit organizations to journalists, educators, and potential charitable donors upon request.
Only non-profit organizations file Form 990s with the federal government. Lassiter wrote in an email that the mayor could have had easy access to the industrial foundation’s corporate articles and IRS data over the last two years but that he “did not do his homework.”
A media representative with the Secretary of State could not be reached as of deadline this morning. Lassiter offered a possible explanation as to why the federal and state records have a discrepancy regarding the industrial foundation’s corporate structure.
“When BCIF was formed in 1961, there was no non-profit corporation law in Kentucky,” Lassiter wrote. “That came later, and I presume that is why our (non-profit) status is dated 1977. This incorrect ‘P-Profit’ designation may be a hold-over from that early incorporation ...”
The mayor of Danville and Boyle County judge-executive serve as, ex-officio members of the industrial foundation. In addition to the city and county leaders and Lassiter, the foundation includes nine elected members who represent many of the county’s top employers.
“Mr. Hunstad arrived at these mistaken conclusions about BCIF for the first time after serving as mayor and a member of the BCIF board for two years, and following Hugh Coomer and John Bowling as mayors who also served on the BCIF board without question or objection,” Lassiter wrote.
“BCIF has never received one cent of public funding since its creation over 50 years ago. BCIF receives its funds through land sales, leases, and investments. BCIF is a private corporation ...”
The mayor could not be reached for comment this morning.