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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin took the stand in her ethics trial Monday morning.
Shanklin is accused of misusing council funds to benefit herself and her family. Prosecutors say they took part in an upholstery program that was created to help ex-convicts.
Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton canceled the program after he discovered it was not serving inmates. Shanklin's attorney says the program contract never stated that citizens could not use it.
Shanklin, prosecutor David Tachau, and Shanklin's attorney Aubrey Williams often interrupted one other during questioning.
Under a prosecutor's questioning Monday, Shanklin could be fairly combative, as when she responded to a question about why she gave a statement to police, yet refused to testify during an Ethics Commission hearing. She said it was, "Under the advice of my attorney." When told that the hearing officer said she, as the client, made that call, not the attorney, Shanklin responded, "I don't recall anything that the Ethics Commission may have said to me at that time."
The prosecutor tried to press Shanklin further, asking if she was afraid to answer questions. Her attorney objected to the question, and the judge sustained that objection.
"How do we know you benefited the community at all?" was another question from Tachau.
"He misstates the evidence," came the objection from Williams, who was told, "Don't interrupt the counsel."
The exchange continued:
Tachau: "Year after year, the taxpayers spent money on this program even though nobody was getting a job from it." Shanklin: "Nobody was getting a job, as I said before, from other classes, too." Tachau: "And the only people who benefited were Dr. Shanklin and her friends and family, right?" Shanklin: "Never benefited, never got a dime out of the class, in any kind of way." Tachau: "Year after year the taxpayers spent money on this program even though nobody was getting a job from it." Shanklin: "No one was getting a job, as I said before, from other classes, too." Tachau: "And the only people who benefited were Doctor Shanklin and her friends and family, right?" Shanklin: "I never benefited, never got a dime out of the class. In any kind of way."
When Tachau pressed Shanklin about funds paid to the instructor, Shanklin shot back.
Tachau: "She was paid more than $30,000 for teaching sewing and upholstery, right?" Shanklin: "Over five years." Tachau: "Right?" Shanklin: "Yes. One component." Tachau: "I don't want to talk about other components." Shanklin: "I know you don't want...you want to talk about what you want to talk about."
Shanklin was told Tachau had the right to ask questions about what he wanted to talk about.
Shanklin: "The things, he is saying the same thing over and over. I just have to be me. So you got to accept me for me." Tachau: "Well, this is a removal proceeding, Ma'am. We don't have to accept you for you." Shanklin: "If it's a removal, you find me guilty, but I don't see where you are going to find me guilty."
At one point Shanklin also denied misappropriating money from a neighborhood group from which she wrote checks, including one to her grandson's girlfriend.
The trial is expected to go late into the evening.