Effort to oust Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson is a 'political lynching,' lawyer says
In a 42-page response to a series of charges against Johnson, attorney Thomas McAdam denies “every allegation” made by a council committee trying to remove the longtime Democrat.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A lawyer for embattled Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson has denied “every allegation” made by his council colleagues, calling the attempt to oust him a “political lynching and effort to destroy” his reputation.
In a 42-page response to a series of charges against Johnson, attorney Thomas McAdam denies the allegations filed by a bipartisan council panel of Johnson’s peers, praises the “integrity and reasonableness” of fellow council members and says Johnson is confident he will be cleared “at any fair and reasonable hearing.”
Johnson “didn’t create this embarrassing mess,” according to McAdam’s response, and “to reach the end of his political career with his character besmirched with such ugly allegations is a pain which is almost unbearable to him.”
At the same time, McAdam took aim at some of Johnson’s accusers, including Councilwoman and fellow Democrat Jessica Green, who claims Johnson groped her during a group photo at Wyandotte Park.
In the response, McAdam suggests Green leaked a confidential investigative report of the incident to the media.
“Who, of all the actors in this affair, has the most to gain from exploiting this scandal in the press?” McAdam wrote.
Instead of asking Johnson to explain the apparently accidental touching, going to police or filing a civil lawsuit, Green “decided to air her concocted grievance in the court of public opinion, through the use of slurs, innuendo, anonymous leaks, and not a small quantity of dramatic tears.”
In a brief telephone interview Friday afternoon, Green said she has seen Johnson’s response but referred questions to Deborah Kent, the committee’s attorney. Kent declined to comment Friday afternoon because she hasn’t discussed Johnson’s response with the full panel.
McAdam acknowledges in the response that Johnson sent an apology letter to Green, but that it was not an admittance of guilt, just an “honorable and gentlemanly thing to do.”
Johnson denies having purposely touched Green’s backside at the park and said there are no witnesses who have backed the councilwoman’s claims.
A council charging committee, which includes three Democrats and two Republicans, has filed formal charges against Johnson and is seeking to remove him from office. Johnson is accused of “misconduct, incapacity and willful neglect” of his duties.
He was expelled from the council’s majority Democratic caucus this summer.
In its complaint, the charging committee notes Greater Louisville Inc.’s decision to ban Johnson from its events in 2016 for "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" following a chamber trip to Austin, Texas. Council President David Yates told WDRB News last year that a GLI employee had raised concerns about comments Johnson allegedly made on the trip.
In response, McAdam said Johnson denies the allegations and notes that the chamber employee making the accusations is not named.
“Without a name, this person cannot be subpoenaed or confronted,” McAdam said. “The term ‘inappropriate remarks’ is so vague and undefined as to be undeserving of any response.”
An aide to councilmember Angela Leet also has accused Johnson, claiming he dropped his pants and exposed his “bare backside” in a parking lot outside City Hall.
Johnson apologized to the aide, Erin Hinson, in a radio interview in June but did not admit he exposed himself, McAdam noted in the response to the charging committee. The attorney says the allegations don’t include a “date or time, making a legal defense impossible.”
And while Johnson said in the radio interview that he has a thin waist and a loose belt and “sometimes my pants fall down,” McAdam argues that is no reason for Johnson to be removed from the council.
“Having a thin waist, a full waist, or a loose belt, can in no way be construed to serve as a basis of removal from the Metro Council” under state law, Johnson’s response says.
In the response, McAdam says Johnson suffered a head injury more than 40 years ago, but denied that it has resulted in him being incapable of doing his job.
McAdam also said in the response that media coverage has inflamed the issue, unnecessarily involving African American ministers and women’s rights organizers.
“That this sort of crazed mob action can occur in a compassionate city like Louisville, is disappointing, to say the least,” McAdam wrote.
The response says there is no legal authority allowing David Yates, president of the metro council, to force Johnson to provide notification before he goes to City Hall.
The response calls this "outrageous demand" an "extreme example of dictatorial tyranny."
Johnson served on the old Louisville Board of Aldermen before being elected to represent a swath of southern Louisville on the Metro Council after the city and county governments merged. He has said he will not seek re-election next year.
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