The five-member Charging Committee held a press conference in August announcing their efforts to oust Councilman Dan Johnson. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

The Charging Committee seeking to remove Councilman Dan Johnson from office has rejected a proposed settlement offered by Johnson’s attorney on Monday that would have allowed the councilman to remain in his position, provided that he apologized for his actions, only entered City Hall to attend meetings and limited his contact with other council members and staffers to phone or email.

The settlement agreement offered by Johnson’s attorney Thomas McAdam is similar to the one offered to — and rejected by — both parties last week by Metro Council President David Yates, who is serving as the presiding officer of the Metro Council Court in the removal trial set to begin on Wednesday.

McAdam stated in his offer Monday that Johnson agreeing to the conditions of the settlement would avoid a “protracted and embarrassing trial,” but the members of the Charging Committee — made up of five council members — say that its terms are unacceptable and Johnson must face removal.

Charging Committee attorney Deborah Kent and councilwomen Jessica Green and Angela Leet each told IL that McAdam’s settlement offer was a “nonstarter.”

“This is the same agreement that President Yates put together earlier this week,” said Green in a statement to IL. “At the time, Councilman Johnson stated that he was not agreeable to the agreement. I’m not quite sure what has changed for him at this point. Nothing has changed for me. My previous statements stand. This farce of an offer remains a nonstarter for me.”

Green alleges that Johnson intentionally grabbed her butt at a city event this summer, while a legislative aide of Leet accuses Johnson of exposing his buttocks to her in a parking lot last year. These two allegations — along with an allegation of harassment made by an unnamed staffer of Greater Louisville Inc. — make up a large part of the complaint made by the Charging Committee in August when they were formed to remove Johnson.

Johnson’s administrative trial will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, and Yates has ruled that it will take 14 votes of the Council Court — made up of 20 council members — to remove him from his seat.

Metro Councilman Dan Johnson

Yates issued another ruling on competing motions between McAdam and Kent on Monday, denying the motion of Johnson’s attorney seeking to compel the Charging Committee to give all of its documentary evidence obtained through open records requests to McAdam. Yates stated that not only was McAdam’s motion a week past the deadline, it “fails to provide anything other than mere speculation that the Charging Committee possesses exculpatory information and additional documents.” He also mentioned that McAdam had over two months to prepare for the proceedings by filing open records requests of his own.

On Monday, Yates received two additional motions from GLI, whose attorney sought to quash the subpoena seeking to compel the testimony of CEO Kent Oyler and to receive a protective order preventing the testimony of “Jane Doe” — the staffer who alleges that Johnson harassed her at a GLI event in Austin, Texas, last year.

The motion relating to Oyler states that the CEO has no independent knowledge of and did not witness the alleged incident involving Jane Doe, therefore making his testimony “merely cumulative” and irrelevant.

While Yates ruled that he would not allow a subpoena to compel the testimony of Jane Doe, he did state that he would consider such a subpoena if her name is revealed in the testimony of other GLI employees, as the charging complaint “has made this person’s testimony germane to this determination.”

GLI’s motion seeking a protective order states that Jane Doe requested confidentiality when coming forward to her employer with the complaint against Johnson, and the local chamber “has an obligation to protect its employees from unwanted harassment and retaliation.” It goes on to state that revealing Doe’s identity is not necessary to the proceeding and would serve only to “embarrass publicly” and intimidate an individual who has requested that her privacy be protected.

Tuesday afternoon, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell — whose office is providing legal advice to Yates and the Council Court — also weighed into the Dan Johnson saga, holding a press conference to denounce the public statements of McAdam that demeaned and belittled the intelligence of female attorneys. With dozens of attorneys in his office standing behind him, O’Connell said that it was important to call out such “caveman thinking,” but declined to answer direct questions about Johnson’s removal trial or whether McAdam should be disbarred.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]