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Metro Newsroom


Metro Council Passes Comprehensive Ethics Reform

Friday March 12, 2010

By a vote of 24-0, the Metro Council passed an ordinance updating Louisville Metro’s Code of Ethics to require electronic posting of reports, expand the reach of the Ethics Commission and modernize the definition of family member.


The ordinance, which represents more than 18 months of deliberations by a special Ethics Workgroup led by Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward Pugh (District 9), was able to capture the unanimous support of the member of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.


“I’m proud to be the Chairperson who brokered this compromise allowing each of us to support it without sacrificing our principles. It speaks highly of every member of the Committee”

– Tina Ward-Pugh


Members of the special Ethics Workgroup agreed to act as sponsors of the final ordinance. The members of the Metro Council who were primary sponsors for the Ethics Reform Ordinance were: Ken Fleming (District 7), Tina Ward-Pugh (District 9), Kevin Kramer (District 11) and Marianne Butler (District 15).


“Accountability and transparency are cornerstone for maintaining the public trust. This Ethics Reform Ordinance proves Metro Government’s commitment to an open government that holds integrity at a premium” - Ken Fleming


“Since November, the Ethics work group met weekly to review the concerns of all parties in the need for fine tuning the Ethics Code. The end result was brought before the full Metro Council. The Council has voted and acted on these changes to make a good ethics code even better.”

- Marianne Butler


“The people of Louisville can be proud of the bi-partisan Ethics Reform Ordinance produced by dedicated members of the Metro Council. Although contentious at times, representatives from varying backgrounds were able to focus our efforts on a common goal of better government.”

– Kevin Kramer


“I reached across the aisle to work to improve the Metro Ethics Code. My legislative experience in Frankfort working on Kentucky’s Ethics Code proved to be invaluable as we moved through this process to pass good legislation.” -Jon Ackerson


Improvements made to the Ethics Ordinance:


- Increases transparency by requiring ethics documents and disclosure forms to be placed on the Metro website.


- Significantly broadens the number of government employees who are covered, including persons who have the ability to approve contracts over $10,000 and legislative assistants to members of the Metro Council.


- Establishes a time-frame for action to be taken by the Ethics Commission. Requires the commission meet on a monthly basis to report to the council regarding any advisory opinions or decisions that have been pending for more than 180 days.


- Expands and clarifies the definition of “Family” to include in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren that weren’t previously covered. It also includes anyone who is a member of the metro officer’s household, whether they are a dependent for tax purposes or not.


- Requires the Ethics Commission submit an annual report to the Metro Council, summarizing its activities, decisions, advisory opinions and any suggestions on how to modify or improve the ethics code. The ordinance also requires the Ethics Commission conduct a thorough review of the ethics code every four years, hold a public hearing, and then make recommendations to the council.


- Clarifies and expands what political activities are considered a violation.


- Defines who may be appointed to the Ethics Commission, does not allow for anyone who within the past year has been a lobbyist, member of a metro officer’s family or a government employee, or an elected official.


- Adds additional requirements for the filing of complaints, and increases penalties for frivolous complaints.


- Adds a section clarifying transactions with subordinates, prohibiting a metro officer from compelling a subordinate to participate in a campaign or make a political contribution.


- Prohibits Metro Officers from engaging in political activity with government resources or government employees. It also clarifies what is considered appropriate use of government e-mail and websites.


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Sponsors:
Tina Ward-Pugh (D) 9
Ken Fleming (R) 7
Kevin Kramer (R) 11
Marianne Butler (D) 15