State paid $225,000 to remove Jefferson Davis statue from Rotunda

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Lexington company was paid $225,000 by the Beshear Administration to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from the Capitol, according to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

American Industrial Contractors was given the no-bid contract by the state, according to the report.

A spokeswoman for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet told the newspaper the reason it was a no-bid contract was because of the specialized nature of the work and the limited number of companies that perform that type of service.

The state says two firms with experience in safely removing statues were identified and contacted.  Both firms visited the site, assessed the scope of the project and in the end, American Industrial Contractors was able to complete the project and meet the state’s schedule, according to the report.

The president of the moving company, Tom Bennington, could not be immediately reached for comment, according to the Herald-Leader.  The newspaper reports records with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance show that Bennington’s wife, Jane Bennington, contributed $750 to Andy Beshear’s 2019 primary election campaign for governor.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission voted to relocate the 15-foot-tall, 5-ton marble statue to the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Todd County, which is where the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War was born.

The statue was placed in the Capitol Rotunda in 1936 at the request of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The governor and other critics said the statue was a divisive symbol because of the Davis’ support for slavery.

No decision has been made on what will replace the statue in the Rotunda, but there’s been no shortage of suggestions.

Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel, of Taylor Mill, pre-filed a bill to remove the Davis statue and allocate money to replace it with a statue of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African-American master diver in the United States Navy.

The 19-member House Women’s Democratic Caucus in the General Assembly thinks a woman should be honored with a statue in the Rotunda.

As chair of the Kentucky House Democratic Women’s Caucus, Rep. Lisa Willner of Louisville sent Gov. Beshear a letter calling for a woman to be selected to replace the Davis statue.

In addition, Willner and the caucus request the Rotunda have a rotating educational display of women and people of color until a statue is ready to be installed.

The letter (click to read Letter On Behalf of Kentucky House Democratic Womens Caucus) recommends eight potential candidates to be recognized.



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