Bill Would Seek to Protect Kentucky Horse Buyers

Bill Would Seek to Protect Kentucky Horse Buyers
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Horse owner Jess Jackson, backing bill to prevent agents from secretly representing both buyer and seller.
A bill designed to protect horse buyers from being defrauded has been introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives by Democratic Rep. Denver Butler of Louisville. The legislation has the backing of California vintner Jess Jackson, whose lawsuit against agents Emmanuel de Seroux and Brad Martin and trainer Bruce Headley alleged fraud in private and public auction purchases made on behalf of Jackson.
 
Jackson has also formed a non-profit corporation in Kentucky that he hopes will help enforce ethics rules in the horse industry.
 
House Bill 446, filed Jan. 24, would make it unlawful for any person to represent both buyer and seller in a transaction involving horses without written permission of both parties. The bill also prohibits an agent from receiving undisclosed compensation of any kind from the buyer, seller, or third party involved in the sale of show and race horses, breeding stock, and stallion seasons. Other provisions would mandate a bill of sale for all equine transactions, signed by buyer and seller, disclosing the price and requiring an agent to furnish copies of all records and documents pertaining to a transaction if requested by buyer or seller.
 
Anyone victimized in a fraudulent transaction would be able to collect treble damages and attorney's fees, according to the proposed legislation.
 
Kentucky HB446 is similar to laws governing horse sales in California, where Jackson filed his lawsuit last September.
 
Butler, who is retiring from the House this year after serving nine terms, is chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, where the bill will be heard.
 
Jackson, who amassed a fortune through his Kendall-Jackson winery in California, is a longtime racing fan who began to invest heavily in racing and breeding stock in 2004, and owns Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky and Florida. He has hired high-profile lobbyist Terry McBrayer to assist in the passage of what he calls a "thou shalt not steal" bill.
 
"This is not about me," Jackson said. "It's not about any wrongs that were done me. It's to make sure people in the future don't get taken advantage of. It's better to have more people like B. Wayne Hughes, Satish Sanan, and Jess Jackson coming into this industry, and there would be a lot more of us if people didn't get burned when they came in."
 
Jackson noted that he has a series of meetings scheduled with members of the Kentucky House and Senate leadership and is seeking the endorsements of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which oversees the Sales Integrity Program, and of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, formed in 2004 to lobby on behalf of the horse industry.
 
In addition to the proposed legislation, Jackson has incorporated in Kentucky a watchdog organization, Horse Owners' Protective Association,  that he hopes can add enforcement to the Sales Integrity Program and its code of ethics developed in 2004.
 
Bill Casner, chairman of the TOBA, Robert Clay of Three Chimneys Farm, and Jackson are listed as directors of the non-profit organization incorporated Jan. 11 by Jackson's attorney, Richard Getty. Jackson said the board would be expanded eventually.
 
"Funds we raise will be used to investigate claims," said Jackson, who plans to ask for contributions from various horsemen. "It will be a neutral approach, and we expect to reject false claims as well as investigate and verify accurate claims. This is designed to correct some of the things that have happened and give enforcement to the (Sales Integrity Program). You can have a code of ethics and morals and rules, but you have to have the interest to enforce those rules."
 
Text of Kentucky House Bill 446

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