A state ethics panel reviewing the governor's control of hundreds of reserved seats for the Kentucky Derby voted today to do nothing, at least not in public.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission said it would send a private letter to Gov. Paul Patton (D). But the commission's five members, all appointed by the governor, wouldn't elaborate on what that letter might say.

Kentucky's governors have been given first crack at hundreds of reserved seats for the perennially sold-out Triple Crown jewel for the past four decades.

The practice was largely ignored by the public until May when James Casey, a Laurel horse trainer, was arrested outside Churchill Downs and charged with scalping a $42 Derby ticket for $100. His attorneys traced the ticket, one of three Casey had bought from a scalper, back to the governor's office.

Casey, whose trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Louisville, has conceded that he violated Kentucky law by selling the ticket at an inflated price, but said he didn't deserve to be locked in a holding cell for 12 hours.

"I certainly can't imagine how there could be anything improper or how the public could possibly be hurt," Patton said today. "I don't reckon the policy of this state is that governors can't have any friends."

Patton was not implicated in the alleged ticket scalping involving Casey, and he said he felt no personal responsibility for it.