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Piagentini appeals ethics decision as charging committee wraps first week of review

Piagentini denies ethics allegations
J. Tyler Franklin
Metro Council member Anthony Piagentini held a press conference on Friday, October 20, 2023 to dismiss ethics violations.

The Republican Metro Council member wants a judge to reverse the city's ethics commission ruling that he violated law.

Piagentini said the ethics commission violated his due process and lacked the evidence needed to determine if he violated ethics laws, according to a filing in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The ethics commission ruled in October that Piagentini violated six ethics laws when he used his official position for unwarranted gain. The District 19 Republican took a job with a local healthcare nonprofit in late 2022 after he’d helped the group get a $40 million COVID-19 relief grant.

KyCIR first revealed in February that Piagentini took a job with the group. The next month, the ethics commission opened a formal investigation.

Piagentini filed an appeal in Jefferson Circuit Court last week.

In his filing, Piagentini said the commission's findings are "tainted by bias and must be reversed."

He said the commission withheld public records, allowed "speculation as evidence" and committed a series of procedural missteps throughout the investigative process and public trial.

"These abnormalities resulted in a deprivation of my due process rights and made a mockery of this administrative process," he said.

He filed the formal appeal in court on Thursday and notified the public in a newsletter sent via email Monday afternoon.

"I am going to use every legal means at my disposal to fight this injustice, and this is one of those steps," he said in the newsletter.

Piagentini did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

His appeal comes as the Metro Council's charging committee is deciding whether or not his ethics violations warrant removal from the city's legislative body.

The Louisville Metro Council charging committee met twice last week to review and discuss the violations.

The ethics commission recommended that Piagentini, chair of the council's minority caucus, be kicked-off the council. The day after their findings, Mayor Craig Greenberg said he terminated the city's contracts with the nonprofit that hired Piagentini, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council.

If the charging committee decides to file the formal removal charges, the Metro 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.

The charging committee's meetings last week were held almost entirely in closed session.

The committee originally formed with five members - chair Cindi Fowler from District 14, vice chair Andrew Owen from District 9, Paula McCraney from District 7, Pat Mulvihill from District 10, and Betsy Ruhe from District 21 - but added Jennifer Chappell from District 15 as a sixth member on Monday in case anything happened to one of the members.

Fowler, chair of the committee, did not return a request for comment Monday.

There is no timeline for how long the committee will deliberate before deciding whether or not to file formal removal charges.

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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