A report filed Wednesday with the Bowling Green Ethics Board concludes that City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash violated the city’s ethics policies in his actions resulting in his arrest May 23.
The ethics board took no action beyond formally receiving the report from Paducah-based lawyer Stacey Blankenship, who was hired by the ethics board in July to investigate the ethics complaints.
Nash was arrested May 23 on a charge of alcohol intoxication in a public place outside the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center. On May 28, Nash pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine plus court costs. His arrest led to 23 complaints to the ethics board.
In her report, Blankenship outlined the events of May 23. The report said a SKyPAC security guard informed 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.
At that point, 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 having four to six beers and four to six mixed drinks in a five-hour period.
Wise and another deputy later watched Nash exit SKyPAC, at one point standing by the front door as Nash and his daughter went by. According to the ethics board report, “Wise reports that he did not smell alcohol nor notice anything that may indicate Nash was under the influence of alcohol at that time.”
But based on the report from the security guard, Wise followed Nash to his truck, where he observed him enter the vehicle and begin backing up. Wise flagged Nash down and asked him to get out of the truck. Nash then stated that he was not planning to drive but intended to call someone for a ride. Wise and another deputy who arrived on the scene discussed what charges, if any, to file against Nash, according to the report.
Wise said he was aware of a previous Nash DUI arrest where field sobriety tests were suppressed in court because Nash has knee problems. In that 2013 case, Nash was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The case was resolved in 2017 with a dismissal of the DUI charge and a guilty plea to a count of improper turning, for which Nash was fined $100.
According to the ethics report, “Wise knew he could prove an Alcohol Intoxication charge with his testimony and so he decided to charge him with that instead of a DUI.”
Nash’s driver’s license was suspended at the time of his 2019 arrest, but Wise said he did not charge him with that offense because he did not know it at the time of the arrest.
According to the report, Nash never told deputies he was a city commissioner. Blankenship also asked Wise if in his law enforcement career he had ever not charged an intoxicated person operating a motor vehicle with DUI, and “Wise admitted he had not.”
The report also includes testimony and cellphone videos of others on the scene which generally corroborate the events of that night.
Blankenship concludes 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.”
After briefly reviewing the report after Wednesday’s ethics board meeting, Nash attorney Alan Simpson said the finding that his client violated the ethics policy was “expected,” but he was glad to see it determined he did not use his position to seek special treatment.
That allegation was based on a report that Nash had asked a SKyPAC security guard during the night if he knew who he was.
The report noted that none of the sheriff’s deputies said Nash tried to use his position to influence them and the security guard “could not confirm this statement during a follow-up interview.”
“We are hopeful we can resolve this ... (Nash) has never made any excuses for his behavior,” Simpson said. “He has been run through the meat grinder” on social media, he said.
It is up to the ethics board at a future meeting to determine what, if anything, is done with Blankenship’s findings.
If the board determines that Nash committed an ethics code violation, it can issue a written reprimand or recommend that Nash be disciplined or removed from office.
If the board sends a removal recommendation, the city commission would then vote on whether to remove him.
Several of the ethics complaints demanded Nash be removed from office.
In the weeks after his arrest, Nash issued a public apology both on social media and in person at an ethics board meeting.
The next step for the process is a meeting between Blankenship and Simpson slated for Oct. 15, which Simpson said he hopes will lead to a resolution of the matter.
Nash, Simpson said, “has done a lot of great things for the city.”
In his public apology, Nash said, “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.”