Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Called to Testify in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin’s Removal Trial

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is among a number of city officials being called to testify in the removal trial of Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, which is scheduled to begin next week.

Earlier this year, the Metro Ethics Commission ruled unanimously that Shanklin violated various ethics rules, including funding an ex-offenders upholstery program benefiting her friends and family.

The panel recommended the councilwoman’s ouster from office, and a Charging Committee of five council members filed a petition to begin removal proceedings.

Before the ethics complaints were filed the Fischer administration shut down that upholstery program in Shanklin’s district, citing concerns about the lack  former inmates participating

Shanklin is being represented by attorney Aubrey Williams, who refused to comment for this story on why Fischer is being asked to testify before the Metro Council Court.

But in court documents provided to the council clerk, Williams says the mayor is expected to testify about “various matters relating to any laws, policies and procedures” that caused Fischer to halt the program.

Attorney David Tachau is the prosecutor in the removal trial. He says it’s unclear why Shanklin wants the mayor to be called as a witness other than an attempt to throw irrelevant issues into the case.

“I’m not aware of any personal knowledge that the mayor has about this case at any level, and I have no idea why he’s actually being requested by Councilwoman Shanklin,” he says. “I don’t know whether it is some effort to throw issues into the proceedings that are not relevant what the charging complaint names. Possibly Councilwoman Shanklin knows something that hasn’t come to light until now. But from what I understand the mayor had no involvement in any aspect of this and it will not serve any particular purpose to call him as a witness.”

A Fischer spokesman declined to say whether the mayor plans to testify, but this isn’t the first time Shanklin’s legal counsel has implicated the mayor in the case.

In February, Shanklin sued the mayor’s office for public records regarding the program alleging Fischer was violating the state’s open records law and depriving her of due process.

Last summer, a Shanklin spokesperson said she  felt the mayor’s office has taken a harsher tone with her case and the councilwoman went as far as boycotting a press conference with Fischer due to his administration’s public comments about the ethics charges.

The defense and prosecution are scheduled to hold a pre-trial hearing at City Hall on Tuesday to discuss motions, exhibits and other witnesses.

Unlike the ethics commission, the Metro Council Court has subpoena powers and a number of individuals who did not testify before that panel are set to be questioned before lawmakers.

Among the witnesses listed  by the defense and prosecution include Shanklin’s niece and the mother of her great-grandaugher, who were involved in the upholstery program and other taxpayer funded programs.

Other witnesses include members of Petersburg-Newburg neighborhood association, which received city funds to run the program.

Other city officials who are being called to testify include Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton, Councilman Robin Engel and the chair of the ethics commission.

The removal trial is scheduled to begin July 23.

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