Metro Councilman Dan Johnson resigns from Democratic Caucus
Johnson says he will stay on Metro Council until his term ends.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Metro Councilman Dan Johnson says he is leaving the Metro Council Democratic Caucus.
Johnson made the announcement at a news conference called to address allegations of sexual harassment made against him. While he is stepping down from the caucus, Johnson says he will remain a council member.
"In the quarter of a century that I've held public office, I never would have imagined that the Metro Caucus that I have loved and supported would treat one of their own with such disdain and strip around the most basic due process," Johnson said. "Innocent until proven guilty.
"While I will always continue to be a member of the Democratic party, I can no longer continue to be a member of the Democratic Caucus that would disregard and abandon the Democratic values of truth and justice so comfortably."
The District 21 Democrat has been under fire since fellow council member Jessica Green said in early June that Johnson grabbed and squeezed her backside at a public event.
Johnson eventually issued an apology letter, saying he won't run for re-election and will get counseling. But he later had an attorney send Green a cease and desist letter threatening legal action.
Green's attorneys issued a statement Thursday evening on her behalf:
Councilman Johnson's inflammatory statement makes a mockery of his prior "apology". Regardless, it is Ms Green's fervent hope that this latest attack is the last attack against her. There are so many important issues facing our community. Ms. Green wants to continue focusing her energy and attention on making Louisville a better community for all of its citizens.
The Metro Council Democratic Caucus had been considering disciplinary action against Johnson. Caucus chair Bill Hollander said he had a conversation with Johnson last week about a possible recommendation, but Hollander would not say what that was. Johnson was given until July 5 to respond.
Johnson says he will stay on as an elected official to Metro Council until his term ends.
"I will continue to work alongside my many Democratic Caucus colleagues and my Republican Caucus colleagues and continue building the progress to better our city. I will continue to share in the hopes and dreams of our constituents as a Democrat; however, I hereby resign from the Louisville Metro Council Democratic Caucus, effective immediately."
The Metro Council Democratic Caucus leadership, Councilman Bill Hollander and Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, issued a statement following Johnson's news conference. They say they spoke with Johnson several times since June 8, when Green made her charge.
"Pursuant to our rules, Councilman Johnson's opportunity to testify himself, to call witnesses and to examine witnesses would occur at the full Caucus meeting we scheduled for July 13. Councilman Johnson was informed of that fact in writing last week. We followed our rules and afforded Councilman Johnson the due process the rules contemplated.
At no point did either I or Vice Chair Bryant Hamilton tell Councilman Johnson that any of his voluntary actions would end our investigation or prevent further Caucus or Council actions. That statement is absolutely false and part of a disturbing pattern.
Our Caucus can now move forward, without Councilman Johnson.”
On Thursday, the Louisville Democratic Party issued a statement saying its executive committee supports Johnson's ouster as a result of his "continuing misconduct."
When asked about the party statement, Johnson said it was "not a good action."
Johnson's attorney, Thomas McAdams says his client has been denied fair play and due process. But he would not comment on whether any further legal action is planned.
Council member Angela Leet also issued a response Thursday night:
Dan Johnson's prepared response and resignation from the democratic caucus falls far short of an appropriate remedy to this situation. We have a woman from GLI, a Metro Council legislative aide and a Metro Council member who have all been traumatized by Dan Johnson's behavior over the last 10 months. He has made half-hearted apology letters that appear written and signed by someone other than himself, followed on the same day by cease and desist letters with threat of legal action, and his insincere words at today's press conference. His actions speak far louder than his words and there is no room for HIS vile behavior, HIS suppression, HIS intimidation, and HIS disrespect for women. I intend to stand up for women and other marginalized members of our society. I will pursue all remedies available to ensure a safe workplace for my staff and my colleagues and all people who come after me. I know what's right. Why doesn't Dan Johnson?
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