Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin

2:44 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Walks Out on Ethics Hearing

Shanklin attorney Aubrey Williams addresses the Ethics Commission.

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, left in the middle of her own ethics hearing at the request of her attorney.

Shanklin has been accused of violating five provisions of the city’s ethics code, including using her position to benefit relatives.

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1:49 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Ethics Hearing Off To Slow Start

Shanklin's attorney Aubrey Williams speaks to the Ethics Commission.

The ethics hearing for Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is underway and prosecutors have laid out the road map for the next few days.

A few stumbles in the first few hours of the hearing--including delays by both prosecuting and defending representatives--could push the hearing into Friday. 

Shanklin has been accused of allocating discretionary spending (Neighborhood Development Funds) council members receive to programs that benefited her relatives.

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4:31 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Ethics Commission Names Judge, Prosecutor in Shanklin Case

Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission has tapped two local attorneys to serve as the judge and prosecutor in the hearing against Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2.

Former Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Ann Sheadel will serve as the hearing officer and preside over the proceedings as a judge.

In a surprise move, the commission has re-hired Louisville attorney James Earhart as the investigative officer who will prosecute the case. Last year, Earhart led the proceedings against former Councilwoman Judy Green that ultimately resulted in her removal from office.

Deborah Kent is legal counsel for the ethics commission. She says the board chose Earhart due in part to his experience in the Green case.

"My understanding is the commission was very pleased with his work last year. But secondly, that his experience in understanding the issues and the mechanics of Metro Government will be invaluable. He won’t have the learning curve this time around," she says.

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8:01 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Ethics Commission Votes to Hold Hearing in Shanklin Case

Embattled Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, will face an ethics hearing.

The city Ethics Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to hold a trial-like proceeding on October 25 in response to a complaint filed by a state watchdog group.

It took the panel over an hour in private session to rule that it will hold a hearing to determine if the city lawmaker violated six separate provisions of the city’s code of ethics. Common Cause of Kentucky filed charges last month claiming that Shanklin used her office to benefit herself and her relatives.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is representing Shanklin in the case and objected to the commission deliberating in secret. He says the ethics panel has failed to properly explain its procedures, and is denying his client due process.

"In a court of justice—unless this is something other than that—when one party makes allegations, the court of justice allows the parties to debate and argue those questions," he says. "Why it is that the commission cannot allow argument and make rulings openly on those motions without going into executive session makes no sense."

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6:30 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Shanklin Seeks Dismissal of Ethics Complaint

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is asking the city Ethics Commission to dismiss a complaint filed against her by a state watchdog group.

The embattled city lawmaker is also making the argument that The Courier-Journal is behind the complaint.

Last month, Common Cause of Kentucky Chairman Richard Beliles cites a series of articles that reported on Shanklin's discretionary spending. It alleges Shanklin violated the Metro Government code of ethics by using her office to benefit herself and her relatives.

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1:35 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Shanklin Seeks More Grant Funds for Neighborhood Group Despite Ethics Controversy

Louisville Metro Council

Embattled Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, is seeking additional funding for  a neighborhood group at the center of her ethics controversies.

The Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association will come before the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday requesting $5,000 from Shanklin's discretionary fund. Grant expenditures over that amount require approval from the committee.

A complaint has been filed with the Ethics Commission against Shanklin and a Metro Police investigation has been launched into her office over allegations that funding to the group reportedly went to her relatives, who were members of the non-profit.

The city's finance department is also awaiting documentation on $20,000 in total grant funds given to the group in the two previous fiscal years. A spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer says if the group misses the August 13 deadline, it could be forced to repay the money or be barred from receiving future allocations.

Ruben Pulliam is president of the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association. He says the latest request is for grass cutting at vacant properties and other program expenses, adding that the community shouldn't be punished for the allegations against Shanklin.

"Barbara Shanklin is a member of the community, but she’s not the community. She’s an individual. Whatever she’s done or been accused of or could be liable for, we haven’t done anything. But we want our grass cut," he says.

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4:46 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Council Committee to Discuss Discretionary Fund Audit Report

The Louisville Metro Council’s Government Accountability Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss recommendations from a troubling audit report that found a lack of oversight in discretionary grant spending.

Last month, a review of Neighborhood Development Fund grants from the past two fiscal years showed half of the $1.9 million grants awarded during that period lacked proper documentation. It also found inconsistencies and a vague criteria for non-profit groups receiving city funds, including over $6,500 in funds that were spent out of compliance with Metro Government rules.

The audit specifically mentioned Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who faces an ethics complaint after a series of controversies were reported about her office’s discretionary spending.

Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, is chairman of the government accountability committee. He says the panel will address the community’s growing concerns about how those grants are approved and monitored, but told WFPL the committee will avoid any mention of the Shanklin case specifically.

"I think it will be good for the public to hear the recommendations and the findings, and how we are going to begin making the changes in the process to hopefully restore the public’s confidence," he says.

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5:00 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

LMPD Launching Criminal Probe Into Shanklin

Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Police Department is launching a criminal investigation regarding Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, and the financial management of her office.

The Public Integrity Unit has been working closely with the internal auditor’s office to determine if a formal probe was necessary. The auditor is examining an upholstery program for ex-offenders that served several of Shanklin's relatives instead.

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9:15 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Ethics Commission Remains Without Subpoena Power

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission still cannot compel witnesses to testify, which could impact a possible hearing involving Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin.

Over the past year the commission has addressed a number of procedural and policy weaknesses it discovered during the course of two hearings against former Councilwoman Judy Green. The panel has since hired a full-time legal counsel and requested the council tinker with parts of the city code of ethics.

But in its 2011 annual report the commission said the lack of subpoena powers remains a serious challenge to its ability to enforce the law and is ultimately a question of state law that the General Assembly must address.

"At this point in time without that power people come voluntarily and provide testimony on their own," says Ethics Commission Chairman Jonathan Ricketts. "And without being able to compel their attendance we’re limited in what we can bring and evaluate."

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5:00 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Chief Conrad Talks Shanklin Probe, Challenges Residents to Help Fight Crime

File photo

Speaking before the Louisville Forum on Wednesday, Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad challenged residents and city institutions to do more to detour violent crime while addressing a probe into Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's office.

The city has seen several high-profile acts of violence recently, such as a shooting spree this May in the Parkland neighborhood that killed three and injured others. Since then, there have been other brazen incidents, such as the murder of a 15-year-old high Shawnee High school student and an assault rifle homicide in Old Louisville.

Conrad says the police force can’t arrest its ways out of this problem and that there are many things social services and the community can do to reduce incidents like the shooting spree in west Louisville.

"There were many, many points between the day of that shooting (in Parkland) and when those people were born where families could have gotten involved, churches could have gotten involved and social services could have gotten involved," he says. "So we need to look for other institutions to help make a stronger and more sustainable community."

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