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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Louisville Metro Council Finds Barbara Shanklin Guilty Of Ethics Violations, Recommends Removal. I Recommend Jail!

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission Thursday unanimously found that Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin violated the city’s ethics law and recommended she be removed from office.
That recommendation now goes to Metro Council, whose leadership said after the commission released its findings that members will review the findings with lawyers “as quickly as possible”

Five members of the Louisville Metro Council would have to petition for a trial-like removal hearing. In that proceeding, to be held within 90 days, Shanklin’s fellow council members -- other than those signing the petition — will act as her jury.
Shanklin, D-2nd District, has denied any wrongdoing and her lawyer, Aubrey Williams, said she will be exonerated on the ethics claims and in a related criminal investigation. Williams planned to speak to reporters later Thursday afternoon. A woman who arrived at Shanklin’s home Thursday after the commission announced its findings said Shanklin was not there.

The commission also issued a reprimand and censure. Shanklin can appeal the findings to Jefferson Circuit Court.
“Now is the time for the council to come together and work to address these findings in a way that helps to move this community forward,” Council President Jim King said in a prepared statement along with Jerry Miller, chairman of the Council’s Government Accountability and Ethics Committee, and Madonna Flood, vice chair. “We assure you this process will move forward as quickly as possible while also protecting fairness for all those involved.”

The commission said four of the five ethics complaints were substantiated.

The complaint was filed after The Courier-Journal reported that she had appropriated $175,000 in discretionary grants to the Petersburg/Newburg Improvement Association over the past seven years, then signed 80 percent of the organization's checks over that time. More than $14,000 in grant funds went to her family members, who performed services for the nonprofit group.

The Courier-Journal stories also showed that Shanklin and her family members were the main participants in an upholstery training program that cost taxpayers $30,000 and was intended for ex-offenders — before it was canceled by the Fischer administration. The newspaper found no evidence that any ex-offenders ever participated in the program.

The complaint against her was filed last July by Richard Beliles, chairman for Common Cause of Kentucky, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization.
Shanklin would be the second Metro Council member to face removal in three years.

Metro Council in September 2011 voted to expel former Councilwoman Judy Green last year after finding she had committed multiple violations of the city's ethics law by mishandling a grant and managing a summer jobs program for youth that employed several of her relatives. Green died Jan 15 after suffering a heart attack.

The Louisville Metro Police Department's Public Integrity Unit conducted a criminal investigation of Shanklin's financial management of her office.
That investigation was recently turned over to a special prosecutor, Robert Schaefer, the first assistant commonwealth's attorney for Meade, Breckinridge and Grayson counties.

Editor's note:you can read the ethics report here.



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