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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) With the investigating attorney comparing her to a dictator and Robin Hood, Louisville Metro Councilwoman Judy Green defended herself and the rerouting of a Metro Council grant before the Metro Ethics Commission on Monday.
"Everyone of those organizations and every dollar that was spent I stand by," Green testified. Yet, the West End dentist acknowledged that her staff "messed up" the grants process, denying other council members the details of her appropriations scheme.
"I regret that paperwork was not done correctly," Green said.
100 Black Men of Louisville had asked Green for a $1900 Metro Council grant to fund mentoring programs. Instead, Green appropriated $7500, with the expectation that 100 Black Men would distribute the balance to expenditures of her choosing, including youth football teams, tickets to a Kentucky Derby brunch and catering for senior citizen safety seminars.
"I did ask my staff to see if 100 Black Men would be a pass through to pay for those safety seminars," Green admitted.
"Judy Green makes mistakes, like all other humans," argued Steve Reed, Green's attorney, "She's doing everything she can to help the poor children in District One, grow."
Green held back tears as she detailed the community groups that benefitted from the pass-through funds.
"My philosophy has always been that if they are playing together, they won't be shooting each other," Green said.
Hearing investigator Jim Earhart said it's not about the worthiness of causes, it's about following the rules.
"Every dictator in the world believes they know what's best," Earhart said in a closing argument, "How to do it, and doesn't need obstacles or people in their way to accomplish what they foresee is best for everyone."
Political blogger Ed Springston, who filed the ethics complaint against Green, alleged that Green was attempting to buy votes, a position reiterated by Earhart.
"Councilwoman Green is giving away the money like Robin Hood for her personal benefit of obtaining and maintaining office and votes," Earhart said.
"There are application procedures. There are approval procedures. There are rules on who can and can't get it," Earhart explained, "and those rules are in place because it is not a personal fund to further her own agenda."
Reed argued that Green did not personally benefit from the expenditures, thus they do not constitute an ethics violation.
"Imagine how hard it is to change an entire community," Reed said, "how burdensome it is, but what an honor it is to try to do that. It's not only hard and long but it's complicated. Mistakes will be made. But that doesn't mean just because a mistake was made... We are not playing ethical gotcha."
Green contends that a legislative aide messed up the paperwork by not listing all of the groups that would get taxpayers' money.
"That's correct," Green said, "And I am certainly not here to bash her. That's not my intent."
"It's not a mistake," Earhart countered, "It's simply a deliberate act to gain political advantage."
Retired Circuit Court Judge Tom McDonald again presided over the proceedings. McDonald must now determine the facts of both this ethics hearing and another last month in which Green faced an ethics complaint related to her "Green Clean Team" summer jobs program for teenagers. McDonald will recommend findings to the ethics commission.
If the ethics commission determines that Green intentionally violated ethics rules, she could face expulsion from the Metro Council.
A decision on the first ethics charge is expected within weeks.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - Before the Metro Ethics Commission, Louisville Metro Councilwoman Judy Green admitted on Monday to using one non-profit group as a "pass through" to allocate city funds to other organizations.
At the second of two ethics hearings, Green testified that her office directed the 100 Black Men of Louisville group to reroute thousands of dollars from a city grant intended for the group's mentoring mission to youth football programs, a safety seminar for senior citizens, the St. Stephen Family Life Center, a Kentucky Derby brunch and other expenditures.
Green testified that she was not aware of any rules prohibiting such spending and defended the worthiness of the causes that eventually received the funds.
Green's attorney told the commission that there is a "striking" lack of evidence in the case.
Neither of two representatives of 100 Black Men appeared at the hearing, despite requests from the hearing officer.
Retired Judge Tom McDonald is presiding over the hearing and will determine the facts of the case and a recommendation to the commission. McDonald's decision in Green's first ethics hearing regarding charges that her family benefitted from a city grant for her summer jobs program is still pending.
Upon receiving the judge's findings, the ethics commission will vote whether it agrees.