The Bowling Green ethics board approved Tuesday a settlement agreement with City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash regarding a series of ethics complaints against him.
The agreement calls for Nash to:
• take a voluntary four-week leave of absence from his official duties;
• donate his salary from that time to a local substance abuse recovery center;
• participate in counseling through the city’s Employee Assistance Program.
Nash was arrested May 23 on a charge of alcohol intoxication in a public place after he attended a concert at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center. On May 28, he pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine plus court costs. His arrest led to 23 complaints to the city ethics board.
The settlement agreement was hashed out between Nash, his attorney, Alan Simpson, and the ethics board’s special counsel, Paducah-based attorney Stacey Blankenship.
Simpson and Nash did not attend the ethics board meeting, and a call to Nash was not immediately returned Tuesday evening.
Blankenship spoke on behalf of the ethics board and said after the Tuesday meeting that the settlement “was a balance between removal from office” and a reprimand.
City commissioners make $15,500 per year, so forfeiting four weeks of pay equals about $1,200.
After she was hired in June, Blankenship compiled a report on Nash’s arrest and concluded that the commissioner violated the city’s ethics policies.
The ethics board could have taken various actions based on the findings, from issuing a written reprimand to recommending that Nash be removed from office.
Blankenship said a recommendation for removal from office would have likely led to a series of hearings, as well as a possible appeal through the court system, that could have gone beyond next November, when Nash would be up for reelection if he decides to run again.
“That process is a long, drawn-out process,” she said. “I don’t that it would be in the taxpayers’ interests.”
Blankenship’s first bill to the city for her services in the ethics probe, obtained by the Daily News through a state Open Records Act request, was $12,004.48.
Blankenship said the settlement sends a message that even a city commissioner is “not above the law,” and “ultimately (voters) will be able to make the decision” on whether Nash stays in office.
In her report, Blankenship details interviews with several witnesses from the May 23 arrest. According to the report, a SKyPAC security guard told Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Wise that Nash was “highly intoxicated” at the Jamey Johnson concert and had spilled drinks and fallen down stairs leading from an upstairs lounge. Nash was reportedly told he would have to leave the venue, but ultimately was allowed to return to his front-row seat. Nash later admitted to having four to six beers and four to six mixed drinks in a five-hour period.
As Nash was in his truck in the SKyPAC parking lot after the concert, Wise stopped and arrested him.
Blankenship concluded that Nash “Violated the City of Bowling Green ethics policies ... for failing to maintain his conduct to the highest standards, as well as ... for engaging in illegal behavior that violated state law.”
Nash has continued to attend city functions since the arrest but has declined to speak publicly about the case other than to issue a written apology, stating in part that, “I embarrassed myself. I embarrassed my family. I embarrassed the people who support me and the city. Some have argued I am only sorry because I got caught, (but) my apology is sincere. I hope to be able to do good work for the city.”