Ethics Board Hears Complaint Against Council Member: Free Speech and Misconduct Allegations Take Center Stage

Last week's City Ethics Board meeting was dominated by a complaint lodged against a city council member, with the accused party requesting a public hearing.

The complaint was filed by former Mayor Troy Rudder on December 8, alleging misconduct by City Council member Kelly Greene during a training session held by the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) on November 15, 2022. The complaint also accused Greene of attempting to bribe Rudder in a May 5, 2022, meeting.

Both parties were represented by their respective attorneys, with ethics board attorney Maryann Stewart overseeing the hearing. The two witnesses for Rudder were Marcy Berry, the city clerk at the time of the incidents, and Jane Dyche, the Ethics Board chair.

Berry's testimony focused on Greene's questioning of the KLC trainer about Open Meetings laws and Open Records requests, suggesting Greene had deleted text messages with other council members from her personal cell phone. Dyche, who recused herself from the first hearing, also mentioned hearing Greene discussing Open Meetings during the training.

Greene denied deleting text messages, explaining she had raised the issues at the training to inform two new council members. She admitted to discussing city business with individual council members but denied ever having more than three council members together at one time, which would constitute a violation of the Open Meetings law.

The bribery accusation stemmed from a meeting between Greene and Rudder in which Greene allegedly offered Rudder peace until his retirement in December if he would fire the city attorney, Larry Bryson. Rudder claimed a recorded conversation showed Greene suggesting the council could offset his legal fees for an unrelated ethics hearing.

Greene argued her conversation with Rudder was an attempt to negotiate differences between council members, and her attorney, Ned Pillersdorf, emphasized Greene's right to free speech in both the training session and the discussion with Rudder. Pillersdorf argued that bringing a city council member before the ethics board for exercising free speech could discourage other officials from asking questions.

After a 30-minute executive session, the ethics board announced it would take 30 days to reach a decision, with the involved parties to be notified by mail.

Staff Report from The Kentucky Daily

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