Kentucky Colonels: Past, Present and Future

News Release

News for Immediate Release

RICHMOND, Kentucky — Beginning last year Globcal International, an international civil society organization from Kentucky that is registered with the United Nations entered into discussions to negotiate with The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, a Louisville based charity, over a potential merger to assimilate their fraternal membership organization, Kentucky Colonels International. The merger proposal came following numerous attempts by the Honorable Order to terminate the operations and development of their fraternal counterpart which began online in Berea in 1998.

The ‘Order of the Kentucky Colonel’ was established in 1813 as an award of merit and honorary title given to civilians by Governor Isaac Shelby who commissioned Charles Stewart Todd, one of his officers in his campaign, as an aide-de-camp on the Governor's Staff with the rank and grade of colonel. Subsequent governors adopted the practice and the title of the ‘Kentucky Colonel. became an integral part of the state’s tradition and customs.

In the early part of the 20th century, Kentucky colonels began to come together to form sociopolitical and fraternal organizations in the state, most of which are gone now. Today there are well over 100,000 Kentucky colonels living in more approximately 70 countries around the world and there are at least twelve associations that have been established for social and fraternal purposes to promote fellowship in various countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and several others, there are currently four based in Kentucky including Kentucky Colonels International.

The oldest and largest, of all these organizations is The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels which was started by Governor Ruby Laffoon in 1932, who was the same governor that commissioned the famous Harland David Sanders, which later went on to start the restaurant chain known today as KFC. In 1957 the organization consolidated itself as a charitable and educational organization by filing its Articles of Incorporation with the state where the Governor of Kentucky once appointed a Commanding General for each of the US States. In 1992 they amended their legal documents privatizing the organization from the government and removed the powers of the governor and members; on page 9 of the organization's "Restated and Amended Articles of Incorporation" that are on file in Frankfort, Kentucky, the document states that "The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels has no members."

After amicable discussions between Col. David Wright, Executive Director of Kentucky Colonels International and Col. Sherry Crose, Executive Director of The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. which began at the end of 2019 Col. Wright submitted a merger proposal on January 13, 2020 to the executive director of the Kentucky based charity's board which would have allowed the organization to assume control over the international membership association as one of their own programs. On the 20th of January, Col. Crose informed Col. Wright that the merger offer he submitted was rejected by the Honorable Order’s Board of Trustees.

The Honorable Order approached Col. Wright in 2001 and 2016 with their legal counsel and once again in 2018 with their executive director in efforts to terminate (interfere) the membership organization's legal formation, ideals, plans, and development, which states that it was formed to create a "true membership" organization by Kentucky colonels for Kentucky colonels using their letters patent issued by the governor. With these numerous attempts to derail the fraternal international organization, Col. Wright decided to approach them with a fair proposal so the Honorable Order could adopt the international membership program they developed to avoid further conflict and confrontations.

Col. Wright stated on Facebook and across the social media that he would attempt to resolve the inconsistencies he found with the Honorable Order directly with them, when he denounced them in a blog article that he wrote in November 2019, voicing his opinion over collaboration between the rival organization with former Governor Matt Bevin who had worked unilaterally with the Honorable Order to enact a decision in 2016 which forces Kentucky colonels to donate annually to their private charity in order to preserve their privilege to make nominations of new colonels to the governor's office.

While Col. Wright agrees that colonels should be active as goodwill ambassadors (their official role granted through the title and certificate), requiring that they donate annually to the private charity in order to retain a privilege granted by the governor is unethical and unjust, especially considering that it had not been required for over 200 years by the Commonwealth.

Under the suggestions of his organization's membership Col. Wright decided to try the old adage, "if you can't beat them, join them" and 'reactivated' his own membership by making a donation to the Honorable Order before submitting the merger proposal to them, to demonstrate goodwill. Now however, since they rejected the proposal the colonel has decided to “go public” with the facts, stating that "the Honorable Order is perpetrating a fraud by misleading other Kentucky colonels to believe they are members of an organization that does not have any members or any provide benefits as a membership organization as defined by US law" as evidenced in a recent editorial and this news release.

Most of the details regarding the merger proposal are covered under a confidentiality agreement made between the two organizations, so only publicly accessible information can be discussed by either party. What can be said is that Col. Wright is currently taking progressive steps to formalize Kentucky Colonels International, he has reinstated his umbrella organization Ecology Crossroads on January 21st in Kentucky's capitol, and has registered a new website domain. He has also formed an international commission which includes J.D. Wilkes and other notable colonels listed on the website.

Col. Wright also addressed his concerns of the impropriety with Governor Andy Beshear in a confidential letter delivered to his dispatch on January 21st after reinstating his non-profit. Concerns he raised include the sharing of private personal address information of future colonels with the Honorable Order and removal of the charity from the government website as it shows preference to them and leads colonels to believe that they offer a genuine membership privilege or are somehow an official agency of the state. ###

Copy of this News Release originally written on February 06, 2020 can be found online in the following formats: [ PDF | Web | Docs ] Members of the news media can contact us by email or at the phone number provided in the PDF version..

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