Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Woodson Scott, D-1, is defending hefty contributions from individuals outside her district, but rivals in the Democratic primary are criticizing donations from Council President Jim King, D-10, and allege he’s buying influence.
Scott has raised over $20,000 in the May 22 election, which is six times more than her closet rivals. During WFPL’s District 1 debate, opponents grilled the incumbent for taking campaign cash from people outside the district and questioned Scott's relationship with the council president.
After Scott was appointed to the council last year, Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3, alleged the process was rigged in Scott’s favor and was unfair to the other applicants.
“It’s not so much that Mr. King would want a favor. I think that it would be Mr. King would feel like that he’s in control of you,” says Janis Carter-Miller, one of four challengers vying for the seat. “And I am not the person that anybody is going to be in control of me—at all.”
Scott says she out worked other applicants to earn the seat and King has no control of her decision-making, adding she is simply a better fundraiser than her opponents.
“I did fundraising for a living for more than a decade,” says Scott, who was a labor activist before being appointed to the council last year. “So I know how to raise money…and if somebody thinks that $1,500 is enough to buy me they are out of their minds.”
Scott told WFPL that her opponents should be more concerned with rival Ray Barker taking funds from anti-gay activist Dr. Frank Simon, than her contributions from King. Barker defended the contributions, saying that he and Simon do not agree on all issues and that Scott is bowing to special interest groups in the gay community.
Political observers note that King remains unpopular in District 1 due in part to the removal trial of former Councilwoman Judy Green, who was ousted from the council last fall.
At several points during that controversy, Green told media outlets King was trying to boot her from the council and had intimated her before the ethics hearings began. King denied the allegation and stepped down as chairman of the removal trial in order to avoid the appearance of conflict, but during the debate Scott's opponents continued to pummel her for the contribution.
Steven Colston is also running for the District 1 seat, and hasn’t raised any money in the primary battle. He says by accepting those contributions, Scott will owe King favors and council members should avoid raising money outside their districts.
“I believe whenever you accept money there is a sense of obligation and you owe a favor,” he says. “If you raise money, raise money in District 1 because that’s where your job is going to be. I personally don’t want to be represented by District 10 dash 1.”