In a letter to the chairwoman of the Metro Council’s government accountability committee, Council President Jim King, D-10, is calling on the Ethics Commission to consider new allegations against Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, at its hearing later this month.
In 2009, Green allocated $7,500 from her office discretionary funds to the non-profit group 100 Black Men of Louisville to hire speakers for a mentoring program. The group’s leaders told The Courier-Journal, however, that Green’s office instructed them to ask for more money than they needed in order to spend the additional funding elsewhere at her direction.
The arrangement undermines council rules and may have breached ethical standards established by city lawmakers who allocate tax dollars to several organizations in their districts. The rules state that any city dollars that go to a non-profit group must each have a separate application process, and no documents related to the 100 Black Men grant say the money was to be shared with other organizations.
The embattled councilwoman already faces an ethics complaint brought by a former political opponent based on an ongoing controversy involving the Green Clean Team in her district. The complaints claims Green used her government position to enrich her family through the jobs-for-youth summer program after a city audit and police investigation found 12 of her relatives were paid.
Last week, LEO Weekly outlined a number of troubling allegations levied against Green in that investigation, including bribery and identity theft made by her current and former legislative aide. The councilwoman has denied those accusations and called the ethics complaint a “witch hunt” brought by a political rival and disgruntled employee.
In the 554-page investigative file, police found the “appearance that criminal activity could have been taking place” — they even urged one of her aides to file charges — a special prosecutor determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue a case and no criminal charges were filed.
These new allegation, however, go beyond Green’s office and ethical decision making and put more attention on how city lawmakers spend their $75,000 Neighborhood Development Fund, including their $100,000 Capital Infrastructure Fund that they are allowed to transfer to the lower account.
It also brings up a number of troubling questions, including if Green and other council members have made similar “side deals” with non-profit organizations before.
In response, King is calling for a city audit of all council discretionary spending over $5,000 for the past two years and recommends that expenditures over that amount go through the city’s Office of Management and Budget. And council Republicans say they plan on asking Mayor Greg Fischer to reduce the discretionary accounts in next year’s budget.