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Waste of the Day: Louisville Politician Loses Lawsuit, Bills Taxpayers

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Topline: A councilwoman in Louisville, Kentucky was found guilty of defamation this April, but not before she billed city taxpayers $108,000 for her legal defense.

Louisville Metro Council member found liable

Key facts: Receipts obtained by Louisville Public Media showed that Louisville Metro Council Member Donna Purvis used public funds to defend herself in a lawsuit filed by her former legislative aide Denise Bentley.

The lawyers billed Louisville Metro $96,840 and the city also paid $11,455 for court reporter fees and other expenses.

Louisville Public Media says the city will likely also be billed for expenses from the five-day trial in April.

Waste of the Day: Louisville Politician Loses Lawsuit, Bills Taxpayers
Waste of the Day 6.21.24 by Open the Books

A jury found that Purvis spread false rumors about Bentley forging timesheets to steal money from the city. Bentley, a former councilwoman herself, was awarded a symbolic $1 in damages.

Bentley says the false rumors started after she refused to support Purvis’ reelection campaign because Purvis had publicly called her a “redbone,” a rude term for an African-American person with light skin.

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Purvis’ lawyers were hired through the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office instead of being retained privately because the same lawyers were already representing both Purvis and Bentley in an unrelated ongoing lawsuit.

Kentucky law says the city must pay for Purvis’ defense, unless she “acted or failed to act because of fraud, malice, or corruption.”

Punitive damages are only awarded in Kentucky if “oppression, fraud or malice” are present, so it would seem that Louisville Metro could demand reimbursement. The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office declined to tell Louisville Public Media whether Purvis will repay the money to taxpayers.

What does the plaintiff have to say?

Bentley is looking to recoup her own legal expenses, but she says she wants Purvis to pay for them, not taxpayers.

Still, Bentley’s lawyers said if the city offers to repay the expenses on Purvis’ behalf, then a “decision” will “need to be made.” That’s not a definitive guarantee that Bentley won’t accept taxpayer money.

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Search all federal, state and local government salaries and vendor spending with the AI search bot, Benjamin, at OpenTheBooks.com.

Supporting quote: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that all of these fees and expenses are solely related to the defamation claim,” Purvis’ lawyer said, explaining that Louisville Metro was initially a defendant in the lawsuit. “We prevailed on getting the wrongful termination and retaliation claims dismissed on summary judgment, so I think the fees were very well spent in that regard.”

Critical quote: “When someone who is in power, and other people listen to, says things about you that aren’t true, you are very, very vulnerable,” Bentley’s lawyer said. “It does sometimes take going the distance and getting a jury to absolve you, but when that happens the person who is wrong is the one who should have to pay up.”

Summary: Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for the legal bills of public officials found guilty of defaming a political opponent.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

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This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, OpenTheBooks.com captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).

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