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Top Metro Council Republican will face removal proceedings over ethics charges

Blue wall with LOUISVILLE METRO COUNCIL lettering and the Louisville seal
J. Tyler Franklin
A group of Metro Council members took a step closer to removing a colleague accused of ethics violations.

Five Louisville Metro Council members voted Tuesday night to move forward with removal proceedings against Anthony Piagentini, the Republican caucus chair.

The council members, who together formed a special charging committee, filed a formal complaint against Piagentini with the council clerk. It’s the first step in a process that will eventually lead to an ethics trial, where the full Metro Council will act as a jury. Removing Piagentini will take a two-thirds vote.

This fall, he was found guilty of ethics violations by Louisville’s Ethics Commission, which said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that he negotiated a job with a nonprofit while supporting their bid for a major grant.

The commission found he violated multiple ethics rules in the process and recommended Metro Council remove Piagentini from office.

District 7 Council Member Paula McCraney, who heads the majority Democratic caucus, was one of the representatives who voted to move ahead with the trial. McCraney told LPM News that she came to her decision after looking at the available evidence against Piagentini.

“It’s a responsibility that we hold each other accountable as colleagues and elected officials,” she said. “When you have evidence as compelling as what we have reviewed, there’s an obligation to move forward, to present it to the full council for consideration and removal.”

McCraney said the committee spent the past two weeks reviewing the Ethics Commission’s investigation of Piagentini and his relationship with the nonprofit Louisville Healthcare CEO Council. That began in February after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found Piagentini took a $240,000 a year consulting job with the organization just one day after Metro Council voted to give it $40 million of the city’s federal COVID-19 relief for a job training program.

Piagentini has denied he was seeking to use his elected office for personal gain, calling the ethics investigation a “political hit job.” He’s currently appealing the Ethics Commission’s findings.

Piagentini did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The 24-page complaint filed by the five-member charging committee outlines eight misconduct charges. The committee members, all Democrats, allege Piagentini improperly solicited or accepted a promise of employment from the CEO Council. They also accuse him of failing to disclose a financial or private interest in a matter before Metro Council, as well as using his position to obtain an unwarranted privilege or advantage.

These mirror the charges Piagentini faced in his Ethics Commission trial. But there is one additional charge, “misconduct by perjury,” stemming from his testimony during that trial.

According to Metro Council rules, the Metro Council president will next need to set a date for removal hearings to take place. Those hearings will function much like a trial, with an attorney presenting the evidence and Piagentini and his lawyer putting up a defense.

Removing Piagentini from office will require the support of 18 Metro Council members.

There are currently 16 Democrats on the council, plus Republicans holding nine seats and one independent member. That means Democrats will need at least one Republican to vote in favor of removal.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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