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Piagentini says Louisville Metro Council ethics trial verdict 'vindicates' him

Piagentini, center, flanked by his lawyers, Michael Swansburg, left, and J. Brooken Smith, right on Monday, April 19, 2024.
Roberto Roldan
Piagentini, center, flanked by his lawyers, Michael Swansburg, left, and J. Brooken Smith, right on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.

Louisville Metro Council Member Anthony Piagentini says he feels vindicated after his colleagues voted down misconduct charges against him.

District 19 Republican Anthony Piagentini thanked his fellow council members for voting with him and against what he called “a disturbing trend” in American politics of criminalizing political disagreements, at a Tuesday press conference.

“I actually think this vindicates my position,” he said. “It vindicates what I’ve been saying the facts and evidence prove, not just people’s guesses and assumptions.”

The vote was the result of a weeks-long trial in which Piagentini was accused of negotiating a job with a nonprofit, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, while supporting its bid for a $40 million grant.

The city’s Ethics Commission ruled last fall that Piagentini had violated local ethics laws and “strongly” recommended he be removed from office. But Metro Council rejected that recommendation Monday night after conducting its own trial.

Piagentini faced eight misconduct charges in the Metro Council trial that began late last month. Metro Council members were split on many of the charges, with Republicans voting “no” on all of them and some Democrats voting “yes” on some and against others. None of the votes on the individual charges passed the 18-vote threshold needed to find him guilty.

He was emotional when talking about the impact the Ethics Commission trial last year and this most recent trial in Metro Council have had on his family.

“My daughters are regularly asked at school if I’d be going to jail, which as a parent is an unbearable thing for your children to have to endure,” he said.

Piagentini apologized to Metro Council members and the residents of District 19 for not being more forthcoming about the job offer he received and why he was recusing himself from the final vote. He said he already apologized privately to Metro Council President Markus Winkler for not calling him at that time.

Piagentini also apologized to “everyone who got caught up in this process,” including the board members and employees of the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council. He said the nonprofit was “unfairly maligned through this process.”

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg rescinded the multi-million dollar grant awarded to the CEO Council following the Ethics Commission ruling. On Tuesday, Greenberg shied away from speaking on the results of this second trial when asked about it by reporters.

"That was a Metro Council matter, and so I'll let the Metro Council speak for themselves on that,” Greenberg said.

While Metro Council has decided Piagentini will stay in office, the ethics controversy isn’t entirely over. The former Kentucky State Police detective hired by the Ethics Commission to investigate the case testified he turned his final report over to the FBI. And Piagentini is still facing $3,000 in fines from the Ethics Commission.

Piagentini, who has appealed the commission’s ruling to Jefferson County Circuit Court, vowed he wouldn’t stop fighting until he has his day in court.

In a statement, Ethics Commission members said Tuesday they stand by their ruling.

“In the matter of Kevin Fields v. Anthony Piagentini, the Metro Ethics Commission engaged in a thorough and evidence-based process according to the [Ethics Code] and issued an extensive, evidence-based, and unanimous decision,” the statement read.

Piagentini won re-election in 2022 and his current term does not expire until 2027.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated what year Piagentini was re-elected.

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

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