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Ethics investigation of Louisville Metro Council member will continue

Metro Council member Anthony Piagentini addresses media
Jacob Ryan
Metro Council Member Anthony Piagentini, center, responds to the mayor's budget proposal in late April 2023.

The city’s ethics commission rejected Republican Anthony Piagentini’s plea to dismiss the complaint against him and end the investigation that will soon culminate in a public hearing.

The investigation into Piagentini is nearing its end, with a decision from the commission possible by late summer.

Piagentini, a District 19 Republican and chair of the council’s minority caucus, filed a motion with the commission earlier this month to dismiss the sworn complaint that alleges his involvement in a COVID-19 relief grant broke the city’s ethics rules. A dismissal would have ended the investigation, which has been ongoing since March.

Last Friday, Delores Pregliasco, the ethics commission chair, said it would not dismiss the case. The officials will meet next week to set a hearing date. The hearing was initially set for July 6, but will be delayed due to scheduling issues. The commission must hold the hearing before August 24, said Delores Pregliasco, the commission’s chair.

The findings of the investigation will be reviewed at the hearing. After that, the commission could recommend removing Piagentini from the council. Metro Council members can remove someone from that elected position with a two-thirds majority vote of the council, according to state law.

The investigation into Piagentini centers on his role in helping a local health care nonprofit secure a $40 million federal COVID-19 relief grant. Piagentini sponsored the spending plan, voted for it in a council committee meeting, then took a job with the nonprofit — the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council — the day after the full council approved the plan in December 2022.

He has said he did nothing wrong. He abstained from the final vote, but didn’t disclosed he would be working with the nonprofit until questioned by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting until months after the grant was approved.

The Metro Council considered filing a formal complaint against Piagentini following KyCIR’s initial report, but lawmakers hedged. The ethics commission hired an investigator to perform the investigation after the leader of another local nonprofit filed a complaint.

Kevin Fields, the chief executive of Louisville Central Community Centers Inc., filed a sworn complaint against Piagentini in early March that alleges he broke the rules. Fields had applied for the same grant funding that Piagentini helped steer toward the healthcare leaders’ nonprofit, while Fields’ group received none of the federal money.

Piagentini and his attorney, J. Brooken Smith, have both declined to comment on the investigation since it started. Neither responded to a request for comment Monday.

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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