Politics

The Louisville Metro Council Democratic Caucus has reprimanded an aide to Caucus Vice Chair Dan Johnson for making disparaging comments about a council member, according to documents obtained by WFPL.

The memorandum, issued June 24, said Johnson must provide a corrective plan for legislative aide Bryan Mathews to follow.

The decision against Mathews, who is also the elected Jefferson County judge-executive, continues a string of controversies since his hiring. Those include claims he was fired from a previous employer for allegedly using a racial slur.

Mathews has denied the accusations stemming from his previous job, calling them malicious lies.

The complaint against Johnson and his aide was filed June 19 to the Democratic caucus’ personnel committee by Democratic Councilman David James. The complaint alleged Mathews violated caucus rules forbidding aides from working to defeat, embarrass, and publicly scorn an incumbent member.

James provided the committee with several online postings by Mathews that either referenced James or were aimed directly at him.

In one posting to Instagram, for example, Mathews took a photo of James’ name tag at a Kentucky Kingdom event saying: “Look what I found. A councilman shouldn’t litter.”

In other online messages, Mathews said he wasn’t let go from the Kling Center over alleged racial slurs; rather, the firing was James’ fault for wanting to build a district satellite office senior facility.

“Since Bryan Mathews started working for Councilman Johnson as his (legislative aide) he has constantly harassed me publicly in an attempt to injure my re-election ability,” James said in a June 19 complaint.

Following the complaint, a Democratic personnel committee made up of Caucus Chair Vicki Aubrey Welch, Council President Jim King, Attica Scott, Barbara Shanklin, and Madonna Flood convened. In a two-page memo, the panel determined the complaint against Mathews was valid.

“The evidence presented from the Facebook and Twitter posts could be perceived as an attempt to bring embarrassment and public scorn upon Councilman James as described in our caucus rules,” the memo said.

The personnel committee ordered Johnson to provide them with an action plan addressing Mathews’ behavior by July 7. It recommended Johnson should “clearly state (Mathews) shall not use social media of any kind to attack or malign a council member for any reason.”

Johnson was warned by the committee that if he failed to provide a corrective plan or if Mathews continued his actions, further disciplinary action could be taken against his aide, ranging from suspension to termination.

Through a spokesman, Johnson refused to provide WFPL with the details of his response.

Welch also declined to disclose what, if any, corrective action was provided to the personnel committee.

“The case against (Councilman) Johnson has been addressed and closed by the Personnel Committee,” Welch said in a released statement. “There is nothing more for the Personnel Committee to do at this point. These are matters done in closed session and I have nothing else to add.”

The decision against Johnson’s aide comes amid legal questions of whether Mathews can serve as Metro officer and county official. Johnson has declined to share the contents of the county attorney’s legal opinion on whether Mathews can work as his legislative aide.