Metro Council panel to consider removing Dan Johnson for violating sexual harassment deal
A Metro Council panel is scheduled to meet this morning to discuss whether council member Dan Johnson has violated the terms under which he was allowed to keep his seat.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Metro Council panel began meeting Monday to discuss whether council member Dan Johnson violated the terms of a deal allowing him to keep his seat.
The three-person group of council Democrats met in a closed, executive session at City Hall but took no action after first denying reporters access to the meeting area, then acknowledging it failed to properly announce the meeting.
A 24-hour public notice is required under Kentucky's open meetings law.
The panel, which will consider "pending violations," plans to meet again Tuesday at 4 p.m., said council member Barbara Sexton Smith, one of the three members. She and fellow members Barbara Shanklin and Rick Blackwell declined to comment further.
But Metro Council President David Yates said the group will determine if Johnson's recent actions -- including staying in council chambers past an agreed upon time and denying wrongdoing in an interview last week with WDRB -- broke the terms of the deal.
Bill Hollander, chairman of the council's majority Democratic caucus, sent an email to Yates Monday morning in which he argued that Johnson's WDRB interview and a Facebook post in which Johnson claimed he "won my battle at the council" violate the "letter and spirit" of the agreement.
Multiple women have accused Johnson, a Democrat who represents parts of southern Louisville, of sexual harassment. He avoided a removal trial by a special council court last week after agreeing to number of stipulations.
Under the deal, Johnson is allowed in City Hall only for the 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after committee and council meetings and must stay off the premises at all other times. He also admitted there is enough evidence to warrant his removal.
Johnson's attorney, Thomas McAdam, declined to comment in detail, saying "I don't know what he is accused of."
McAdam acknowledged that Johnson may have spent slightly more than 20 minutes leaving City Hall after last week's removal proceedings while he was waiting for his wife to arrive.
Addressing the three-member panel, McAdam said: "If these women think that this is grounds for removing him, it almost makes one think that they need professional help."
And he suggested that Johnson would consider a lawsuit if he is ousted, despite a provision in the settlement that Johnson waives his right to appeal.
"If they violate the terms of the agreement -- and I think they have if they've started having secret meetings -- then, yeah, they're open for litigation," he said.
There was also a dispute about the makeup of the three-person panel. Steve Haag, spokesman for council Republicans, said Monday that Yates did not approve the panel’s membership before a council court adjourned last week.
Johnson has been accused of several instances of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, including a claim by council member Jessica Green, who said Johnson groped her backside at a public event in June at Wyandotte Park.
Erin Hinson, a legislative aide to council member Angela Leet said Johnson exposed his naked rear end to her in a parking lot behind City Hall. And last year, Greater Louisville Inc. banned Johnson from its events following “inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" towards a chamber of commerce employee during a trip to Texas.
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