Statement from Councilman Ken Fleming (R-District 7)

Councilman Ken Fleming
Councilman Ken Fleming

"At approximately 2 a.m. on Thursday, after more than six days of hearings and four hours of deliberation the Metro Council Court rendered a vote of 16-4 that Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin was Guilty of Willful Neglect in her use of Neighborhood Development Funds. By a vote of 12-8 that same body also found her guilty of Willful Neglect in her role in an ex-offender program. Unfortunately, a few members of the Metro Council who agreed that she knowingly misused and misdirected public funds – did not agree that Councilwoman Shanklin should be removed. So despite 21 members of the Metro Council believing that Councilwoman Shanklin acted improperly – the Metro Council Court fell short of removal by a single vote.

The seven members of the Metro Council who decided that Councilwoman Shanklin should remain on the council despite the overwhelming and thorough list of findings against her were: Councilwoman Attica Scott (District 1), Councilwoman Mary Woolridge (District 3), Councilman David Tandy (District 4), Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton (District 5), Councilman David James (District 6), Councilman Dan Johnson (District 21) and Councilman Brent Ackerson (District 26). Of those seven, Councilmen Tandy, Ackerson and Councilwoman Scott all found Councilwoman Shanklin Guilty, but were unwilling to remove her as suggested by a vast majority of the members of the Metro Council as well as the Metro Ethics Commission.

As your Council representative, I want you to know that I took my responsibilities in this case seriously. For the past week and a half I have sat in the Metro Council Chambers from 9:30 a.m. until late into the evening. I listened to both parties and believe strongly that the Charging Committee had more than made their case against Councilwoman Shanklin.

The decision by just seven members of this Council to keep Councilwoman Shanklin on the Metro Council is an embarrassment to the Metro Council and our entire community. This decision further highlights the need for significant reforms in the use of discretionary funds and causes serious concerns over the fact that a person with mountains of evidence against them was able to essentially get away with using her office to benefit herself, her family, and her friends.

In the coming weeks, I pledge to work with the eight Republican and ten Democratic members of the Metro Council who stood together in a bi-partisan effort to clean-up the mess brought to light on the use of discretionary funds by Councilwoman Shanklin. I promise to work for real changes to both our policies and the ethics ordinance to prevent just a few members of this council from bringing such dishonor to this body and our community ever again."