(WHAS11) Embattled Metro Councilwoman Judy Green tells WHAS11 news that she will “fight to the bitter end” to keep her elected position.
In a unanimous decision, the Metro Ethics Commission on Friday recommended that the council remove Green from office for spending violations. The commission said Green intentionally violated ethics law in how she handled a taxpayer funded grant for her summer jobs program.
“I have not done anything wrong,” Green reiterated Friday night, “but provide jobs to children in District 1.”
In its Findings of Fact, the commission found that:
“Relatives of Dr. Green who participated in the Green Clean Team received more pay than non-relatives for the same work. The Commission finds Dr. Green intended to, and did in fact, use LIFE Institute’s legitimate status to receive metro funds in obtaining public funds.”
“My constituents know me,” Green said, “I didn’t create a summer youth jobs program to get votes- which is part of the findings.”
Green says she’ll fight her case “to the Supreme Court,” that the ethics review lacked integrity and that she’s spoken with her attorney about “some next step remedies.”
Green got word of the ethics commission decision at her First District dental office.
“A lot of shock, disbelief,” Green said, “I kept thinking, ‘Wait a minute, were we all in the same hearing?’”
Asked by a reporter if Green should resign to avoid a messy Council expulsion hearing, Council President Jim King said that resignation “would certainly be one of her options, no questions about it.”
“I think that everyone has to do what’s right for themselves and what’s right for the community and what’s in their heart,” King continued, “I hope that Councilwoman Green will do some soul searching and make that decision herself.”
“I have no intentions of resigning,” Green said, “And I want to say to my constituents who put me in, I will fight until the bitter end. I also would like to say to my fellow council members, those that are fair minded, I would love to have a sit down and have a meeting with all of them, and them read the transcript, and them hear the evidence,” Green said, “And I know that my colleagues are fair minded. And I know that my colleagues only want what constituents want. And they’re not about to do something rash and something that doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe that my colleagues would be like that.”
Metro council leadership says it is reserving judgment. Yet, all signs point toward an unprecedented expulsion hearing. “We want to be mindful that we create a process that is fair to everyone,” said Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh (D), the chairwoman of the Government Accountability Committee, “and that includes not prejudging our colleague.”
“Certainly some of the allegations were very serious,” said Councilman Kevin Kramer ®, Vice-Chair of the Government Accountability Committee. Kramer was asked if the allegations were serious enough that, if true, would warrant expelling a council member. “Not having the findings of fact in front of us, I don’t think any of us are ready to make that statement yet.” Kramer said.
Green, meanwhile, claims that other council members have done the same things that have gotten her in trouble. “All of us have a stake in grants that we give organizations,” Green contended, “All of us want what’s best for our community. All of us vote on our own grants all the time. All of us participate in a program that we have funded. Most of us have children that participate in government funded programs.”
That notion was dismissed by the council president. “If there are other ethics violations that other council members have committed,” King said, “there would be complaints filed, I think. And, so I am not going to cast a net over the entire council.”
For the Metro Council to consider removing Green from office, either five council members or the mayor alone would need to file a complaint. The remaining council members, absent Green, would serve as the jury in a council trial, with a two-thirds vote necessary for expulsion.
Unlike the ethics commission, the council has subpoena power, which would likely lead to testimony being compelled of a former legislative aide who declined testifying to the commission.
Council members said they are moving forward with their consideration of the committee’s expulsion recommendation even before the commission rules on a second complaint against Green related to the re-routing of another taxpayer grant at Green’s direction.
“I want to just follow the legal process and hope that this process, the next steps will be a fair, impartial and integrity laden process,” Green said, “because I feel so far from the beginning of this whole ethics complaint, it’s been wrought with a non integrity type of feel to me.”
Green blames politics - among other factors - for why she believes she is being singled out.
“Part of it is, I am an independent thinker,” Green said, “And that doesn’t sit well with some people.”
Green said the case has become a “media circus.”
“I will fight tooth and nail to keep... to stay in this position that my constituents, over 7000 of my constituents elected me to do,” Green said.