Louisville Metro Council Democrats are seeking to amend their caucus rules to bar legislative aides from working against fellow incumbents in local elections.
But the investigation that sparked the changes is based largely on hearsay and rumor, according to the council Democratic leader.
During the hour-long meeting, Council Democrats Vicki Aubrey Welch and David James clashed over the internal probe looking at whether his legislative aide is working to defeat an incumbent.
The current rules do not forbid aides from working on council races. Both James and his assistant deny being involved in the District 1 race, however.
James grilled Welch about who was conducting the inquiry and its results. Welch admitted it hasn’t been more than anonymous individuals providing her with information.
“There is no investigation. There’s no one hired. I am just looking for information from our community. It’s out there now. And people are bringing me things every day,” she said. “I get phone calls every day.”
Earlier this week, Councilwoman Attica Scott told WFPL that she was told by a labor leader that James’ assistant was criticizing her tenure. Scott informed Welch about the situation, but said she wasn’t sure if the aide was working on for Scott’s primary challenger Jessica Green in the District 1 race.
“I read where you stated the staff was conducting an investigation and I want to know who is conducting the investigation,” said James.
When pressed for the probe’s results, Welch, who defeated James for the caucus chair position in January, said most of what’s been presented to her has been hearsay.
“The results of the investigation is that I’m not pointing fingers at anyone right now,” she said.
“When someone is willing to come forward who has first-hand knowledge then yes, I can do that. But at this point there are several, several sources of second-hand knowledge. But I’m not going to go into that today because we’re focusing on our caucus rule change.”
The proposed changes would cover legislative aides and forbid them from working against an incumbent Democrat in a primary or general election. It also puts the burden of responsibility on a council member to be aware of their aides activities in any contest.
“My concern is what level of responsibility do I have to establish,” said Councilman Brent Ackerson. “I want to be very clear that I’ve got to know what (my aide) is doing. But someone has to bring it to my attention first and I have to have a certain period of time to take corrective action. If I don’t take action then shame on me.”
Democrats are expected to continue debating the amendments, but could vote on the caucus rules change as early as next week’s caucus meeting.