Congressional Subcommittee Finds Guild Documents Inadequate

A U.S Congressional subcommittee has deemed the Jockeys' Guild efforts to fulfill a subcommittee request for information and documents related to the Guild's management and fiscal activities inadequate.

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, who represents Kentucky and serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent two letters to Guild president Wayne Gertmenian Aug. 17 stating the Guild's production of relevant information first requested in an April 20 letter was of "poor quality." He requested the organization send the complete information by Aug. 31.

If the subcommittee does not receive the requested information by that date, a subpoena will be considered, Whitfield wrote.

As of Aug. 18, the Guild had no official comment regarding Whitfield's letters, said spokesman Eric Banks.

In April, the subcommittee requested the Jockeys' Guild provide documents and information related to the Guild's management, accounting, and oversight of funds as well as information regarding Guild action relating to health insurance policies for on-track accident coverage.

"As an example of our concern about unsatisfactory answers, to date the Guild has not adequately explained what services are provided to the Guild in consideration for the $175,000 salary paid to you (Gertmenian) and the approximately $400,000 annual management fee paid to your consulting company, Matrix Capital Associates Inc.," Whitfield stated.

"It is disconcerting that no one associated with the Guild has yet been able to provide a detailed accounting or basis for these fees, despite the fact that they come directly from dues and fees paid by Guild members, who expect the Guild's leadership and management to be dedicated to furthering the members' health and welfare."

Whitfield, whose wife, Connie, is the vice chair of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority and chair of the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, first requested the information in connection with an ongoing investigation by the subcommittee concerning the adequacy of on-track injury health insurance for jockeys and the absence of such injury-related insurance for many exercise riders and backstretch workers.

Whitfield's latest letter states the subcommittee staff has persistently asked for additional material and discussed "major deficiencies" in the Guild's document production with Guild legal counsel, Lloyd Ownbey, but there has been little improvement. The subcommittee staff concluded after visiting the Guild's offices during the week of July 18, and interviewing the Guild's chief financial officer, Gevork Asatryan, that the Guild has not provided numerous relevant documents, including e-mails.

Furthermore, former chief financial officer Steven Rice informed the subcommittee staff he had saved and turned over to Asatryan all Guild and Matrix-related e-mail documents. But none of those documents has been produced to date.

One of the two letters from Whitfield includes a detailed list of inadequacies in the information requested in the April 20 letter, including revenue reporting and a list of paid employees and volunteers of Matrix and the respective responsibilities of these individuals.

In a separate letter directed specifically toward Matrix, Whitfield makes a request again for clarification of volunteers and volunteer compensation; all records relating to Guild-related business and operations of Matrix; a list of all attorneys who have represented the Guild and a description of their services; and a detailed description of the business relationship between the Guild and Matrix for each year since 2001, the year Matrix became involved with the Guild.