Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is embroiled in another controversy that could result in ethics charges.
The Courier-Journal has reported that Shanklin administered a jobs program meant for ex-offenders since 2007, which has apparently only served her and the councilwoman's relatives. The upholstery-training program was funded by the council for nearly $30,000, but was halted by Mayor Greg Fischer's administration after questions were raised about the lack of referrals.
The newspaper learned that few offenders participated, but Shanklin and her family members took advantage of the program's benefits despite the councilwoman's earlier denials.
From the Courier-Journal:
The program was bankrolled from the metro government’s general fund, with money routed through Metro Corrections. It was halted after corrections Director Mark Bolton expressed concern about the program to the city’s chief financial officer, Steve Rowland.
Bolton said in a Courier-Journal interview that his department was never asked to refer ex-offenders to the program, which he described as “goofy” in an email to a corrections staff member just before it was halted.
Shanklin initially disputed that she and her family members were participants in the classes, even though their names appear on many sign-in sheets. Shanklin later acknowledged that she and her son, Craig Shanklin, upholstered their own couches in the program
Last month, Shanklin survived the primary election in the aftermath of a scandal involving her grandson, who served as her legislative aide despite being a fugitive who had been arrested and jailed dozens of times. She won with 48 percent of the vote against two challengers.
Political observers may note that the questions surrounding Shanklin's jobs program for ex-offenders are similar to the ones raised about former Councilwoman Judy Green's summer jobs program for youth two years ago, which employed her family members and ultimately resulted in Green's ouster from the council.
According to the newspaper, much of the timeline surrounding Shanklin's program occurs after the city's ethics ordinance was revised and could fall under its tighter guidelines.
It was last year when Green questioned why she was being charged with ethics violations while Shanklin was allowed to have her grandson working in Metro Government. Ironically, Shanklin was one of five council members to file a petition to have Green removed from office.
Neither the mayor's office or Council President Jim King, D-10, would comment. The internal auditor is conducting a review of the program.