The cost to the city of Bowling Green for the ethics investigation into the actions of City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash topped the $20,000 mark, prompting officials to consider possible changes in the ethics investigation process.
The Daily News filed an Open Records Act request for the bills from Paducah-based attorney Stacey Blankenship for the probe. The final bill is now in, showing a total cost of $20,062.30.
That figure has city officials reviewing how to handle ethics complaints in the future.
“Making the process less cumbersome is probably something to look at,” Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said.
Blankenship was hired in June by the city’s Board of Ethics to investigate 23 ethics complaints filed against Nash following his May 23 arrest on public intoxication charges after he attended a concert at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center.
Ethics board members said at the time that they wanted a third party to investigate the issues surrounding the complaints.
On May 28, Nash pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine, plus court costs.
In October, the ethics board accepted Blankenship’s report, which concluded Nash violated the city’s code of ethics.
A settlement agreement between Nash and the ethics board called for a four-week leave of absence from his official duties, for Nash to donate his salary (roughly $1,200) from that time to a local substance abuse recovery center and for Nash to undergo counseling.
The Board of Ethics could have issued a written reprimand or recommended that Nash be disciplined or removed from office. Those actions would have had to been approved by the entire city commission.
As Nash began serving his four-week suspension at the conclusion of the Nov. 5 commission meeting, commissioners expressed disappointment in Nash’s actions as well as a desire to investigate ways to not incur such costs in the future.
At that point, the bill for the probe was $12,000.
The desire to examine potential changes to the way ethics complaints are investigated was reiterated Thursday by Wilkerson.
“I’m disappointed the city has to deal with this,” he said, adding that the cost and effort of the investigation “is all on Slim.”
Ethics board chairman Barry Pruitt briefly spoke at the Nov. 5 commission meeting, saying “our work is not finished.” He said the probe had led the board to identify needed “changes in the complaint procedures.”
He said he would outline recommended changes to the commission at a future meeting.
“Hopefully, the ethics board will bring us some recommendations,” City Commissioner Joe Denning said last week. “I think it’s something we need to look at.”
Nash, who has apologized for his actions in written statements, did not return calls seeking comment. His four-week leave of absence ended last week.