The city of Bowling Green Ethics Board voted unanimously Wednesday to hire attorney Stacey Blankenship to investigate possible ethics violations by Bowling Green City Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash.
Last month, board members agreed they did not have all the facts surrounding Nash’s arrest May 23 on a charge of alcohol intoxication and the related issues, and decided to hire a special counsel to look into it.
Nash was arrested and charged after a Warren County sheriff’s deputy witnessed him leave the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center “in an intoxicated state,” according to an arrest citation. On May 28, Nash pleaded guilty and paid a $25 fine plus court costs.
The board has received 24 complaints regarding the incident, several of which demanded Nash be removed from office.
Nash has issued a public apology both on social media and in person at the previous board meeting.
His attorney, Alan Simpson, said Wednesday that Nash is doing OK, “and it’s just unfortunate that this minor incident is garnering this much media attention and taking up this many peoples’ time. And of course he’s had to weather all the hateful comments on social media, and it’s hit home with his family, and he’s committed to never have another issue like this.”
As special counsel, Blankenship has 60 days to create a report regarding whether Nash’s public intoxication violated the city ethics code which prohibits “(engaging) in illegal or unethical behavior, whether committed on or off duty, including, but not limited to ... conduct that violates a federal, state or local law or ordinance, (excluding traffic violations) whether or not the violation relates directly to the duties of the public official.”
Blankenship is a partner at Paducah-based law firm Keuler, Kelly, Hutchins, Blankenship & Sigler LLP.
“The attorney that we’ve chosen for special counsel has come with several recommendations,” said Barry Pruitt, ethics board chairman. “She has experience in this type of area, and I think (she) will serve the city well in her task.”
City Clerk Ashley Jackson said the city has funds set aside to pay Blankenship’s $165 an hour rate.
Based on the findings, if the board determines that Nash committed a 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. Simpson said that would require a unanimous vote from the four other commissioners.
Simpson said the best possible outcome would be a reprimand.
“We’ve indicated a willingness to take some type of an admonition or something like that in his record. He’s not disputed anything, so if that’s what happens, he’s OK with that. But if it’s some type of suspension or trying to be removed from office, then we would have an issue with that, clearly.”
The five ethics board members present at Wednesday’s meeting were Pruitt, Joanna Futrell, Debby Peeples, Joanne Powell and Mike Riggs.