Louisville Metro Councilman Robin Engel

Politics
12:01 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Appropriations Chairman Seeks Ethics Opinion on Council Distributing Gifts

Councilman Robin Engel, R-22

The chairman of the Louisville Metro Council’s Appropriations Committee is asking the Ethics Commission to weigh-in on whether city lawmakers can pass out gifts to constituents.

Earlier this week, the appropriations committee discussed a pair of Neighborhood Development Fund requests made by council members Rick Blackwell, D-12, and Vicki Welch, D-13. The two were seeking to give Metro Parks $3,000 in return for 400 tickets to performances at the Iroquois Amphitheater, which Blackwell and Welch would give out to residents.

The county attorney warned that tickets can have a "monetary value and political value" and lawmakers should discuss the matter further. After a fierce debate, the committee voted down the proposal by a 3-to-3 vote.

Councilman Robin Engel, R-22, who chairs the appropriations panel, sent a letter to the commission Friday asking if it is a violation of the city's code of ethics for council members to control the distribution of tickets. He says there has been a fierce debate on passing out tickets, but lawmakers need non-partisan guidance.

"The question is the temptation and the possibility of impropriety of being able to distribute tickets as a council member. That is in play here and that’ the question of the day,” he says.

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