Louisville Metro Council to set date for removal proceedings against Republican representative
The Louisville Metro Council Court, which is composed of all members except the person accused of ethics violations, will meet for the first time next week. They’ll set a date for when the ethics trial of Republican Anthony Piagentini will begin.
Metro Council’s five-person charging committee held a special meeting on Dec. 28. The group spent nearly an hour in closed session, outside of public view, before returning to council chambers and voting that they are “ready to proceed” with the trial. Now, the Council Court will meet Jan. 18 to set a trial date. It’s the next step in the process that could ultimately see Piagentini removed from office.
Piagentini, who until recently was Metro Council’s top Republican, has been accused by colleagues of eight different violations of city ethics rules, including improperly soliciting or accepting a promise of employment from a nonprofit that had business before the council. Last fall, the Metro Ethics Commission found “clear and convincing evidence” that Piagentini negotiated a job with the nonprofit Louisville Healthcare CEO Council while supporting their bid for a $4 million grant. He accepted a $240,000 consulting contract with the CEO Council days after Metro Council awarded the grant.
Piagentini, who was first elected to Metro Council in 2018, has denied any wrongdoing, saying he stopped supporting the CEO Council’s bid as soon as he realized there was a serious job offer on the table. After the Ethics Commission ruling last fall, he called the investigation “a political hit job” and he’s currently appealing the ruling.
“I will continue to fight and I will continue to act with total transparency as I use all legal means available to address and correct the politically motivated findings of a Fischer appointed [Ethics Commission],” he said in November, referring to former Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat.
Piagentini declined to comment on the latest developments Thursday morning.
The charging committee, which has initiated a second ethics trial within Metro Council, is made up of five Democrats. At least one Republican will need to support removing Piagentini in order for it to pass.
Under state law, removing a Metro Council member requires a two-thirds vote. Democrats currently hold 16 seats in the 26-member body. There are nine Republican members and one independent. Eighteen “yes” votes will be required to remove Piagentini once the ethics trial is complete. Piagentini will not be allowed to participate in the vote.
In the coming month, Metro Council will hold an ethics trial that will function much like a criminal trial. Members of the charging committee, aided by an attorney, will act as prosecutors, submitting evidence and calling witnesses. Piagentini will be allowed to submit his own evidence and cross-examine witnesses.