Updated on 09/17/2011 10:27PM

Legislator: Guild not cooperating


Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, whose subcommittee is investigating the Jockeys' Guild, said on Monday night that he doubts the guild has fully complied with a subpoena issued two weeks ago that asks the guild to provide financial documents by Oct. 3.

Whitfield, the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement that he based his doubts on conversations he had with the guild's attorney, Lloyd Ownbey. The subpoena was issued after the committee twice asked the guild to provide documents about the organization's financial conditions and its relationship with Matrix Capital Associates, a business owned by the guild's president, L. Wayne Gertmenian.

The requests are part of a wide-ranging probe into jockeys' insurance and medical coverage. It is not clear which documents are at issue.

"I am doubtful the Jockeys' Guild and Matrix have produced all records subpoenaed by the committee," Whitfield said. "Ontrack injury insurance for jockeys and other track workers is a very serious and important issue. Dr. Gertmenian's continued lack of cooperation is troubling."

Ownbey disputed Whitfield's contention on Tuesday. Ownbey said that he had responded to the items requested in the subpoena by providing either a written answer or the documents themselves. Ownbey said he e-mailed a copy of the responses to Whitfield's office after he discovered that quarantine restrictions on congressional mail had delayed the delivery of the guild's response.

Ownbey said that the guild had refused to answer some questions and turn over several documents that were protected by attorney-client privilege.

The controversy over the documents comes just two weeks before jockeys and guild officials are scheduled to appear before the subcommittee during a hearing on riders' issues. That hearing will take place Oct. 18 in Washington.

Whitfield, whose wife, Connie, is the vice chairwoman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, was appointed chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee earlier this year. The subcommittee is charged, in part, with overseeing professional sports, with the exception of Major League Baseball.

The subcommittee has already asked several jockeys to testify at the hearing, but so far, Whitfield's staff has declined to release a witness list. Jeff Miles, a spokesman for Whitfield, said that a witness list will likely be released several days before the hearing.

Ownbey said that five guild associates have been asked to testify, including himself and Gertmenian. The others are guild vice president Albert Fiss, chairman David Shepherd, and vice chairwoman Tomey Swan.

In April, the committee asked the guild to turn over financial documents and records of the guild's meetings. In August, the committee issued another request to the guild to turn over the documents, contending that the guild had withheld certain records, and two weeks ago, the committee issued a congressional subpoena.

Ownbey has criticized the direction of the subcommittee's probe, contending that the congressmen are ignoring jockeys' insurance issues and are instead intent on attacking the guild and Gertmenian, who was hired as president of the guild in 2001 as the result of a rift on the guild's board of directors.

"We're looking forward to appearing at the hearing," Ownbey said. "Mind you, the issues described in the April letter dealt with the safety and the health of the jockey on the racetrack. They have never asked us a question on that subject. All they want to ask about is Dr. G., and I find that interesting."