Dr. Alex Harthill made good on a threat to resign as president of the Kentucky Horsemens' Benevolent and Protective Association on Wednesday.
The Louisville veterinarian earlier this month had urged the association board to support an investigation into questionable financial transactions between a company co-owned by present and former Kentucky HBPA officers and a Native American off-track betting network in Oklahoma, or he would resign. The board voted June 24 to terminate the investigation and Harthill said Wednesday he did what he had to do. His resignation is effective immediately.
"I don't want to be a part of something like this that is wrong," Harthill said. "I think the integrity of the association has been badly damaged."
The investigation, which began in May, was probing the relationship between the National HBPA, an Illinois company called Century Consultants, and Choctow Racing Services. The National HBPA at one time received a percentage of the Choctow's pari-mutuel handle in exchange for helping the tribe gain access to simulcast signals. Century Consultants also reportedly earned between $100,000 and $150,000 helping Choctow Racing Services set up its business. Rick Hiles, former president of the National and Kentucky HBPAs, is president of Century Consultants and its secretary is Marty Maline, the present Kentucky HBPA executive director. Hiles has said the company has done nothing wrong and is now inactive.
Harthill, however, said Wednesday that HBPA money is still unaccounted for and he cannot serve as president of an organization that disregards its responsibility to its members.
"It simply violates my sense of our responsibility to the association and its members to shut down the investigation before it can be completed," Harthill said in his resignation letter.
Harthill also took issue with the board refusing to pay for legal services rendered by Joseph Cohen, who in the past has provided legal services to Harthill. The veterinarian said Cohen is "not my personal attorney" and is not now representing him on any pending matter. The board's refusal to pay for services is "inappropriate," according to Harthill.
Another issue that prompted Harthill's resignation included difficulty in obtaining Kentucky HBPA financial statements and other documents he had requested.
Harthill said he is maintaining his membership in the Kentucky HBPA, of which he has been a member since 1940s.