Attorney claims Dan Johnson was victim of 'ambush journalism' during WDRB interview
In a response to Metro Council members, attorney Thomas McAdam claims Dan Johnson did not violate an agreement that allows him to keep his job.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An attorney for embattled Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson has responded to allegations that Johnson violated an agreement that allowed him to keep his seat on Metro Council.
That attorney cited what he called "ambiguous" terms and "ambush journalism" as defenses.
The agreement stipulates that Johnson is allowed in City Hall only for committee and council meetings, as well as the 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after those meetings. Also, by signing the agreement, he admitted there was enough evidence to warrant his removal.
But in the council's notice of violation to Johnson, it states he stayed longer than the agreed upon duration following a council meeting. The notice also states he denied he did anything wrong during an interview with WDRB News.
In Johnson's response, filed on Wednesday, Johnson's attorney, Thomas McAdam, denies any such violations.
A matter of timing
In response to claims Johnson remained in Old City Hall beyond the 20-minute grace period after a Nov. 1 meeting, in violation of the agreement, McAdam argued that the agreement itself, "is so vague and ambiguous as to be virtually without meaning or enforceability."
"What does, 'twenty minutes before, during and the twenty minutes after...' mean?" McAdam demanded in the response. "Does it limit Councilman Johnson's presence in Old City Hall to twenty minutes during Metro Council meetings? When it instructs him to remain '...off the premises of Metro Council,' does this mean out of Council chambers, off the First, Second, and Third floors of City Hall, outside of the building, or completely off Louisville Metro property?"
McAdam went on to argue that the Nov. 1 meeting -- a Removal Hearing to examine whether Johnson himself should be removed from office -- did not constitute one of the "regularly scheduled committee meetings and Council meetings" specified in the agreement.
Additionally, McAdam went on to criticize statements made to the media by council members Jessica Green and Angela Leet at a press conference after that meeting, calling them a "bitter and vituperative attack on the Metro Council Court and its members -- particularly its female members."
McAdam also had an answer for council members who claimed Johnson violated the agreement when he gave WDRB's Stephan Johnson what appeared to be a conflicting statement during an interview the day after the removal hearing.
During that interview, Dan Johnson said
"I still say I did nothing wrong, but actually some of those incidents happened just like they said they did. So if that's the case, I guess I did something wrong. But I didn't do it."
The Council argued that this statement made by Johnson violated the agreement, in which Johnson admitted "transmissions and wrongdoings" and acknowledged the evidence against him.
But in his response, McAdam claims Johnson became the victim of "ambush journalism" committed by WDRB.
"On November 2, 2017, WDRB reporter Stephan Johnson knocked on the front door of Councilman Johnson's home, an[d] asked for a brief comment," McAdam wrote. "This sort of 'ambush journalism' is unfortunately becoming more and more common. Councilman Johnson attempted to articulate the position he has held throughout this unseemly contest: That he never intended to sexually harass any person at any time."
McAdam added later that:
"Quite simply, his unplanned and emotional statement of November 2 to the WDRB reporter can only be reasonably construed as an admission of guilt, and expression of remorse, and a plea for forgiveness. Clearly, he was not denying that he did anything wrong; in his own way, Councilman Johnson was insisting that he never meant to do anything wrong."
Lastly, the Council argued that a Facebook post that appeared on Johnson's account the day the agreement was struck violated the agreement because it brought "scorn or disrepute" to the office. The post read as follows:
"I hope everyone has a great Friday and a good weekend! I won my battle at the council with your help and I appreciate it so much. I will continue to serve my neighborhood in the way I always have. Thank you."
In response to this allegation, McAdam again blasted Councilwomen Green and Leet for their press conference after the removal hearing, again calling it "bitter and vituperative."
"Does it strike any reasonable person as fair and equitable that Councilman Johnson should be punished and removed from office for merely stating, 'I won my battle at the council...' while giving a pass to the previous vitriolic tirade leveled against the Council Court by the losers?" McAdam asked.
He also called the agreement "a victory for all sides."
"A negotiated compromise, which saved the taxpayers a great deal of money and the Metro Council a lot of embarrassment can only be understood as a win/win for all concerned," McAdam wrote.
Johnson has been fighting to keep his job for months after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. Multiple women accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Council member Jessica Green said Johnson groped her backside at a public event in June at Wyandotte Park. A legislative aide to Council member Angela Leet said Johnson exposed his backside to her in a parking lot outside City Hall. And Greater Louisville, Inc., banned Johnson from its events following "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" towards a chamber of commerce employee during a trip to Texas.
Another meeting of the three-member Metro Council panel looking into whether of not Johnson violated the terms of the agreement is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday.
A complete copy of McAdam's response can be viewed below:
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