After deliberating for over two and a half hours, the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission ruled Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, deliberately violated the city’s code of ethics in the case of rerouting funds through a non-profit group without the council’s knowledge. The decision is the second guilty verdict made against Green in less than a month.
Two years ago Green appropriated $7,500 to 100 Black Men of Louisville for a mentoring program even though the group only needed $1,900. No documents filed by Green’s office showed the money was being rerouted to other organizations.
“We found that her involvement with 100 Black Men from the inception of the grant proposal all the way through the passage, lobbying and distribution of the money was a violation of the ethics ordinance,” says Ethics Commission Chairman Jonathan Ricketts.
“It’s not a good day for government. It’s not a good day for the taxpayers. It’s not a good day for members of the Metro Council,” he added. “We don’t enjoy what we have to do. And it is…it’s a tough job.”
During the hearing on the second charge, Green admitted it was a mistake to tell the organization to use the funds elsewhere but she blamed the shoddy paperwork on her former legislative aide.
The additional money was funneled to other agencies at Green’s discretion, namely $240 for a fund-raiser at St. Stephen church, where Green is a member and attended the event; $400 for a Kentucky Derby fundraiser that Green attended; $1,000 for two youth football organizations; and $2,785 to Clarence Yancey, a political consultant, for catering to a luncheon for seniors in Green’s district.
“Everyone of those organizations and every dollar that was spent, I stand by,” Green said at the time.
Green’s attorneys made similar arguments during the day-long proceedings, including that she hadn’t breached ethical standards under the city’s rules, she was not trying to hide the money and that it went to worthy causes she had little connection with.
The panel disagreed, however, and issued a letter of reprimand and censure against the embattled councilwoman.
“When it comes especially to fiscal responsibility and taxpayer dollars it’s not an ‘end justifies the means’ mentality,” says Ricketts. “We believe that the fact she represented to the Metro Council that all the funds were going to 100 Black Men and in fact they did not—nor were they intended to—was subterfuge no matter how you slice it.”
However, the commission deemed a recommendation for her removal from office moot due to a decision made in an earlier ethics case.
Last month, the panel made a ruling in the first ethics complaint filed against Green and found she was guilty of nepotism and using a city-funded summer jobs program to benefit members of her family. The commission recommended Green’s ouster as a result.
Councilwoman Green did not respond to a request for comment and her attorneys were unavailable, but in previous interviews with other media outlets she called the ethics hearings a “sham” and a waste of taxpayers money. Still maintaining her innocence and refusing to step down, Green has appealed the decision in the first ethics case in Jefferson Circuit Court.
A few days after the first case concluded, five council members signed a petition impeaching Green and setting up a trial-like proceeding to remove her from office. The removal hearing is expected to begin in early August where the council will decide her fate by a two-thirds vote.