More Ethics Problems for Judy Green: Kroger-gate

The new problem for Judy Green, and for Cheri Bryant Hamilton, is that the Metro Council members don’t seem to think they did anything wrong. Green, if you read the C-J’s story on the distribution of Kroger gift cards, believes it’s OK to buy a bunch of gift cards with taxpayer money to hand out to constituents at parties. Worse, though, is that she thinks its OK to buy more cards than you are giving away and pocket the balance.

That’s much more of a grievous ethics violation than Hamilton’s, who thought it was OK to reward volunteers who helped her campaign to ban liquor stores in her West End district with groceries.

I spoke to several Council members last week, as rumors of the story were circulating, who were quick to distance themselves from the story. Dan Johnson called ME to make sure I knew he wasn’t involved in the practice.

But for Green and Hamilton, the idea of using discretionary funds to reward citizens must be a no-brainer. Hamilton hung up on C-J reporter Dan Klepal after he asked her whether using gift cards  paid for by taxpayers as prizes in a door-decorating contest was an appropriate use of taxpayer money.

The amount of money is negligible, but it’s the idea that these elected officers don’t think twice before helping themselves to public money that’s bound to raise a ruckus, and speed Green’s exit from the Council for ethics violations. She’s got another ethics hearing next week. Of course, the right thing to do would be to resign, but when you’re taking $20 gift cards from constituents for your own use, it’s hard to believe she’s in a position to give up her Metro Council paycheck.

Green’s actions are the most despicable, and she’s not even talking to media on the advice of her attorney. So we’re left with the evidence: Green authorized the purchase of $20 gift cards to be given as prizes at holiday parties, but that there’s no accounting of who got them and Green’s aide says she took the leftovers.