Louisville Metro Ethics Commission

Politics
6:57 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Louisville Metro Ethics Commission Seeks Guidance on Council Members and Zoning Decisions

Jim King
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission punted Thursday on an advisory opinion sought by Council President Jim King regarding whether council members have to determine who has an interest in zoning decisions.

With little discussion, the committee voted to send a letter to King’s attorney, saying the commission would seek the legislative guidance of the metro council’s government accountability and ethics committee.

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Politics
7:49 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Louisville Metro Ethics Commission Dismisses 3 Complaints Against Council President Jim King

Jim King
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission on Thursday dismissed three complaints against Council President Jim King, saying two were untimely and the third lacked probable cause.

The commission adjourned abruptly following an hour-long closed executive session after several community members interrupted proceedings, insisting that they be allowed to speak publicly on the matter.  

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Politics
3:19 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Louisville Council President Jim King Refutes Ethics Claim, Suggests Prosecution of Complainant

Jim King
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Council President Jim King says a series of ethics complaints alleging he personally profited from his public office should be dismissed.

King’s attorney, in a 24-page formal response obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, says the complaints are untimely and without merit.

The attorney, Jon Fleischaker, claims the complaints lodged by political activist Janice Rucker could be considered harassment and that the matter should be referred to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

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Politics
12:30 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

City Won't Pay Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Attorney for Ethics Appeal Work

Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The lawyer representing embattled Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, will not be paid with taxpayer money during the appeal of her Ethics Commission case.

The panel ruled last month that Shanklin violated five sections of the city’s code of ethics and recommended her removal from office.

Attorney Aubrey Williams is appealing that decision in circuit court, but in a letter the Jefferson County Attorney’s office advises it will not pay for continued representation of the councilwoman.

Williams did not return WFPL's request for comment on Wednesday, but he told The Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson the city is trying to "squirm out of its obligations" and force him to drop Shanklin as a client.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell says the decision was based on the Metro Council amending the ethics ordinance to forbid tax dollars going toward any appeal process.

"The amendment provides that counsel will be provided to council members during an appearance before the ethics commission only. Any appeals of that or any removal hearings counsel is not provided to the council member," he says.

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Politics
6:46 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin Faces Removal Trial

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Five members of the Louisville Metro Council are seeking to remove Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, from office over ethics violations.

Earlier this month, the Metro Ethics Commission ruled that Shanklin violated five provisions of the city's ethics code and recommended her ouster.

The Charging Committee is made up of Democrats Tina Ward-Pugh, Vicki Aubrey Welch and Madonna Flood; and Republicans Jerry Miller and James Peden.

Attorney David Tachau will represent the committee and prosecute the case.

He says because the Council Court will have subpoena powers the removal trial will reveal a number of facts and testimonies the ethics hearings could not uncover.

"I do know that Councilwoman Shanklin essentially did not testify and obviously this committee is interested in letting her have her say and address the issues that have been raised by the Ethics Commission and that are in the charging complaint. There are other family members this committee may choose to request a subpoena for," he says.

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Politics
4:19 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Special Prosecutor Named in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Public Integrity Case

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission will make a ruling on its case involving Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, this week while the criminal investigation against the embattled lawmaker is moving forward.

Shanklin is facing five charges of violating the city's code of ethics, including accusations that she misused taxpayer money in relation to an upholstery training program her office championed.

The commission has a range of options in the case, from declining any punishment to recommending Shanklin be booted from office.

It cannot bring criminal charges against the councilwoman, but a separate investigation conducted by the Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit could.

The police have finished their probe and forwarded the case to a special prosecutor, First Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Robert Schaefer.

Schaefer tells WFPL he hasn’t had a change to review the extensive caseload, including a large number of binders, an internal audit and hundreds of pages of documents, but his office is taking the case seriously.

"Obviously this case has attracted a lot of interest, and we take all the cases that we do seriously. So I’m not going to rush and put something out there before I’ve had a chance to go through it," he says.

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Politics
6:35 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Bill Granting Ethics Commission Subpoena Powers Passes House Panel

A bill giving the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission subpoena powers sailed through a state House committee on Monday.

In 2011, a report by the commission complained to the Metro Council about its inability to compel witnesses to testify. Last November, Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, put that lack of power on display when she twice walked out of her ethics hearing at the instruction of her attorney.

From The Lexington Herald-Leader:

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the bill was in response to alleged ethics violations of council members in Louisville.

SB 117 would give ethics committees administrative subpoena power to gather documents and compel witnesses to testify.

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Politics
7:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Bill Blocking Taxpayer Dollars in City Ethics Cases Clears House Panel

Democratic State Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville
Credit keeplarryclark.com

A bill requiring Louisville Metro officials and employees to pay for their own defense attorneys when charged with an ethics violation passed a state House committee by a unanimous vote.

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville, introduced the measure citing the over $180,000 in costs for two cases involving members of the Metro Council in recent years.

"I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service," Clark told WFPL earlier this week. "I think we should be held at a higher standard."

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Politics
8:30 am
Mon February 11, 2013

State Lawmaker: City Officials Shouldn't Use Taxpayer Dollars in Ethics Defense

State Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville
Credit keeplarryclark.com

State Representative Larry Clark, D-Louisville, has introduced a bill that would require city officials charged with an ethics violation to pay for their own attorneys.

Under the current system, Metro officials and employees can request a lawyer paid for by the city to defend them against an ethics charge. The new legislation would prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used in those cases.

Clark says citizens should not be funding the defense of ethics charges against local officials accused of violating the public trust.

"First and foremost, I don’t think it’s fair for the taxpayers to have to pay for a lawyer for those of us in public service. I think we should be held at a higher standard," he says.

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Politics
4:00 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Judge Dismisses Shanklin Suit Against Mayor’s Office to Halt Ethics Case

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Government

A Jefferson Circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit against Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office filed by embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, that sought to halt an ethics case against her.

The suit alleged Fischer violated Kentucky’s open records law because his office refused to provide documents explaining what authority the mayor had to close an upholstery program Shanklin sponsored.

Shanklin’s attorney Aubrey Williams asked for a temporary injunction in the ethics case until the records were produced. But Judge Audra Eckerle ruled the councilwoman would not be harmed if the ethics proceedings continued.

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