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

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. “I really think it was a matter of the request being beyond our authority, frankly,” Chairman Jonathan Ricketts said. “It think if we would have given an opinion it would have lacked the statutory authority that it needed.”

When council members vote on zoning matters, they are given little information, other than a property’s size, location and purpose. In King’s case, a local activist had claimed he had a financial stake in properties he was voting on.

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

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. Janice Rucker, the west Louisville resident and political activist who filed the complaints against King, demanded to address the commission. “Excuse me? Excuse me?” she said.

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

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. The city’s ethics code instructs the commission to forward false complaints, those made in bad faith or with actual malice, to the commonwealth’s attorney for potential action. “It’s something we’re serious about,” Fleischaker said, calling her complaints a “very frivolous effort.”


Footnote in King’s response to the ethics complaint.

FBI Looking Into Louisville Metro Government, Questioning Council Members

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking for potential misconduct in Louisville Metro government, questioning several lawmakers and quizzing others about council activities. Four Metro council members—all contacted independently—and a council aide confirmed with WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that they had spoken with agents as part of a federal inquiry into Metro government. FBI agents also attended a Metro Ethics Commission meeting this week and interviewed a local political activist who has filed ethics complaints against two councilmen. The agents expressed a broad interest in Metro government, according to those interviewed. An agent also sent an introductory e-mail last week to a Metro council member.