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Louisville Metro Council charging committee picks leadership, begins work next week

piagentini charging committee lily burris
Lily Burris
The Louisville Metro Council's charging committee holds its first meeting on November 7, 2023 at City Hall.

The five member committee will investigate ethics violations against Republican Anthony Piagentini before deciding whether to push for his removal from the Metro Council.

Metro Council Democrats Cindi Fowler and Andrew Owen will lead the committee that will determine if Piagentini should face removal from the city’s legislative body for violating ethics laws.

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission ruled last month that Piagentini, who represents District 19, violated six ethics laws. Their findings came in the wake of KyCIR reporting that revealed Piagentini took a job with the nonprofit Louisville Healthcare CEO Council after helping the organization get a $40 million COVID-19 relief grant.

The commission fined Piagentini $3,000 and recommended he be kicked off the Metro Council.

The charging committee will review the ethics commission’s findings and conduct its own investigation before deciding if they will make a formal recommendation that Piagentini should be removed. If that happens, the council will hold a public trial. At least 18 members must vote for removal in order for Piagentini to lose his seat on the 26 member council. Currently, 16 Metro Council members are Democrats, one is an Independent and the rest are Republicans.

Fowler, who represents District 14, will chair the charging committee. She also chairs the council’s government oversight and accountability committee and led the charge to form the committee after the ethics commission’s findings last month.

“The public expects us to do the right thing,” Fowler said at a press conference last month. “There were recommendations handed down and I believe that those speak for themselves.”

Fowler invited Republican members to join the committee — but none did.

Owen, who represents District 9, will co-chair the charging committee.

The other committee members — all Democrats — are Paula McCraney from District 7, Pat Mulvihill from District 10, and Betsy Ruhe from District 21.

On Tuesday, the committee held its first meeting to iron out logistics. Kent Wicker will be their legal counsel.

Wicker played a key role in the ethics commission's public hearing in August. He was the attorney for Kevin Fields, a nonprofit leader who filed the formal ethics complaint against Piagentini in March. Fields is the president of the Louisville Center Community Centers, Inc. and had also applied for the same grant funding that ultimately went to the Healthcare CEO Council.

The committee will meet twice next week to begin their review of the commission’s findings. There’s no timeline for when the committee will make its decision.

“We have a lot of information to go over,” Fowler said. “We don’t want to rush it.”

Investigative Reporter Lily Burris is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email Lily at lburris@lpm.org.

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