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UPDATED: Metro Councilman Dan Johnson Leaving Democratic Caucus

Councilman Dan Johnson

Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson says he’s leaving the council’s Democratic caucus but intends to finish his term in office.

Johnson has been under fire since he was accused by Councilwoman Jessica Green of groping herduring a group photograph earlier this month. Johnson has apologized to Green but maintains that the contact was accidental. He also agreed not to seek re-election to his council seat.

The accusations were investigated by Democratic caucus leadership and a report was submitted to Johnson for his review.

The Courier-Journal  obtained a copyof the report, which showed caucus leaders recommended Johnson be removed from the caucus.

Johnson rebuked caucus leaders during a news conference Thursday at City Hall. He claimed he'd been stripped of due process.

"I never would have imagined the Metro Democratic caucus that I've loved and supported would treat one of their own with such disdain," he said.

Councilman Bill Hollander, the Democratic caucus chair, issued a statement Thursday afternoon, in response to Johnson's comments:
“Vice Chair Bryant Hamilton and I have followed Caucus rules since June 8, when we first received Councilwoman Green's charge. We spoke to Councilman Johnson several times before giving him the report and recommendation the rules call for in a personal meeting with him. "Pursuant to our rules, Councilman Johnson's opportunity to testify himself, to call witnesses and to examine witnesses would occur at the full Caucus meeting we scheduled for July 13. Councilman Johnson was informed of that fact in writing last week. We followed our rules and afforded Councilman Johnson the due process the rules contemplated. "At no point did either I or Vice Chair Bryant Hamilton tell Councilman Johnson that any of his voluntary actions would end our investigation or prevent further Caucus or Council actions. That statement is absolutely false and part of a disturbing pattern. "Our Caucus can now move forward, without Councilman Johnson.”
As for his future, Johnson said he would "continue to share in the hopes and dreams of our constituents as a Democrat.”
“I will continue to work alongside my many Democratic Caucus colleagues and Republican Caucus colleagues and continue building the progress to better our city," he said. 

The news conference lasted about 12 minutes and included a bizarre question-answer session with Johnson's attorney, Thomas McAdam.

McAdam railed against reporters gathered for the briefing. He likened the coverage of allegations against Johnson to a "lynching" and asked, rhetorically, if the reporters gathered were "proud being members of the mob."

McAdam also criticized the suggestion that victims of sexual harassment and abuse should be able to report incidents anonymously — calling it "unfair."

He went on to say Johnson "apologized for something he didn't do."

Democrats hold a 17-to-9 majority in the council. Tony Hyatt, a spokesman for the Democratic caucus, said it's unclear what Johnson's resignation from the body will mean for the longtime councilman. He said Johnson could be without certain resources by leaving the caucus.

Johnson, whose term ends in early 2019, is a charter member of the council and previously served on the old Louisville Board of Aldermen.  

He represents District 21, which includes the Iroquois Park and Beechmont areas. He ran unsuccessfully for State Representative in November.
Earlier this week, a petition signed by some 100 prominent city residents was delivered to the council president calling for the temporary removal of Johnson from the council.

This story has been updated. 

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.