The Kentucky Attorney General needs to take a “serious look” at Democrat David James’ dual roles as a Metro Council member and University of Louisville police officer.
That’s according to Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, who sat in the front row of council chambers Thursday as James cast votes in defiance of a legal opinion issued by the city’s top lawyer this week.
O’Connell is arguing James is violating a provision of the Kentucky Constitution by occupying two incompatible offices.
But at this week’s council meeting James voted without objection even as the legal question remains.
O’Connell said the matter is now in the hands of Kentucky Attorney General whom he is urging to get involved.
“Their office will be responsible for next steps, if any. If Councilman James resigns from one position or another the incompatibility situation is cured,” he says.
James said he is seeking to resolve the matter, but added he is considering possible civil action against O’Connell.
“There is a concern about an ethical breach and I’m doing research into that,” he said.
“Because (O’Connell) represents me as Metro Council officer there is some issues of duty to represent that may be present. I have to look into that. There are several legal issues we’re looking at and trying to work through.”
The councilman also said he believes the legal opinion is politically motivated as retribution for supporting O’Connell’s opponent, county attorney candidate Karen Faulkner, in the primary election.
Council President Jim King met with O’Connell Thursday afternoon to discuss how to handle the matter procedurally. According to a council spokesman, King supports James and did not object to him voting Thursday.
James has served on the council for nearly four years, and O’Connell has known of his employment as a UofL police officer since he was first elected.
Asked about the timing of the opinion, O’Connell said it is based on protecting the interests of the council, and denied it is about his re-election.
“If Councilman James wishes to vote he has a right to do that unless or until a court or some other body would restrain him from doing so,” he said. “I have no intention of taking any steps to do that, but if he continues to maintain two incompatible offices without resigning or vacating one, specifically by action, I think that the attorney general is going to have to take a serious look at what the next steps are.”