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Dan Johnson Could Be Removed From Louisville Metro Council Friday

Metro Councilman Dan Johnson's career could come to an end this week.

The beleaguered Democrat is again facing removal from council.

He's been accused at least three times of sexual harassment. Councilwoman Jessica Green said Johnson groped her as the two huddled for a photo. Council aide Erin Hinson said Johnson dropped his pants in a City Hall parking lot, exposing himself to her. And a spokeswoman for Greater Louisville Inc. said Johnson made inappropriate and unsolicited comments to a woman during a conference in Austin, Texas.

Johnson was ultimately banned from all Greater Louisville Inc. sponsored events.

Despite the allegations, Johnson has remained on the council. He's refused to resign and the council court assembled to examine the evidence and decide his fate opted to censure Johnson — not remove him.

In fact, the council court cut a deal with Johnson — allowing him to remain — just hours into the removal process that was expected to last days.

Now, Johnson is accused of breaking that deal and could be removed by a three-person group assembled to examine the complaint against him.

According to the agreement Johnson reached with the council court, he was barred from City Hall except for 20 minutes before, during and after council and committee meetings.

Councilwoman Angela Leet said she spotted Johnson in City Hall about eight minutes longer than allowed,according to a report from the Courier-Journal.

And Councilman Bill Hollander accused Johnson of breaking the “spirit and letter of the agreement” when Johnson discussed the accusations against him with local television stations and when he posted on Facebook that he’d “won my battle” with the Metro Council.

Because of that, Johnson could be removed.

The three-person group will meet Friday. The group includes councilwomen Barbara Sexton Smith and Barbara Shanklin and councilman Rick Blackwell. All three are Democrats.

Blackwell was appointed to the group by a committee that initially pushed to remove Johnson from the council. Sexton Smith was appointed by Metro Council president David Yates. Shanklin was appointed by Johnson.

A two-thirds vote of the group could remove Johnson from his post. Johnson agreed to waive his right to appeal the group's decision, said Tony Hyatt, spokesman for the council's majority caucus.

But, that doesn't preclude Johnson from appealing, he added.

"Anybody can appeal anything if they want to," Hyatt said.

Johnson is one of the city's longest serving public officials. He was first elected to office in 1991 to serve on the Board of Alderman. He represents the areas in and around Southside, Beechmont and the airport.

He played a role in merging the Jefferson County and Louisville city governments in the early 2000s, Hyatt said. And according to Johnson's council bio, he helped usher in past gun control measures and assisted in the efforts to build a downtown sports arena.

As for his legacy, Hyatt said that's difficult to say.

"The public will have to decide," he said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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