SOMERSET, Ky. (LEX 18) — In August, a Somerset family accused the mayor of hitting their 15-year-old daughter with his SUV and not stopping to help.
Now, some people are asking if he used taxpayer money to pay off his legal bills.
Monday night’s City Council meeting in Somerset quickly turned tense.
Councilman John Adams, in an exchange captured on camera, asked Mayor Eddie Girdler whether he spent $1,500 of city money to pay for his legal bills.
This goes back to earlier this year when Girdler was accused by a local family of hitting a teenage girl on her bike.
The mayor was cited only for leaving the scene of an accident and not rendering aid. The city of Somerset later released surveillance video of the incident. Girdler claims he didn’t know he had struck the girl. The video shows a girl crossing the street on her bike, but it’s hard to tell what impact — if any — the SUV makes with the girl.
Girdler has denied this was a hit and run.
City records show a $1,500 payment was made to the lawyer representing the mayor. Adams wanted to know if the city paid the mayor’s personal legal fees.
“The mayor emailed me back and kind of vaguely talked about it, but it wasn’t very clear so I brought it up last night,” Adams told LEX 18.
Girdler did not respond to our request for an interview:
Here is the transcript from last night’s meeting:
Adams: I’ve got an issue, Mayor, that we’ve been emailing back and forth. It’s an issue that was brought to my attention last Wednesday and that is — a constituent of mine was checking the expenditures that are on the city website and saw that a $1,500 payment was made to Greg Ousley. It appears — and I think in your email today — that you confirm it is for your defense of the citation in the event that happened, I think, on 8/12/2018. I told that constituent and others who have brought it up with me that I’d bring it up. I think it’s bad policy. I appreciate your response today. I think you agree that it’s probably not the best policy …
Girdler: No, sir.
Adams: … that you don’t expect any more payments.
Girdler: No. But again, you’re misconstruing that. I don’t have any other comments about that.
Adams: OK. Well, I do think it’s bad policy for a third party to pay any employee or agent’s legal defense for intentional conduct.
Carrie Wiese, city attorney: Just don’t answer it, Mayor. Your case is pending. You don’t need to answer it.
Adams: Well, I don’t intend to litigate the case. Were the payments made to any city policy?
Girdler: I’m not going to comment on your comments because it’s political in nature. It’s political season, so there are procedures to go through and if you wish to do that, you can follow the proper procedures and go through that.
Adams: Well, I disagree in being political. I think the most political thing to do would be to go along with the get along.
Girdler: Again, it’s under litigation and nothing has even been determined at all. So at this time, it’s not subject to discussion.
Adams: Not even the policy in which the payments were made? And I don’t intend to litigate the issue here. That’s not my purpose in asking.
Girdler: Again, I can’t discuss that at this time. Nothing’s been decided, and that’s just the end of the story.
Adams: OK, so you’re not going to say anything about it?
Girdler: No, sir.
Adams: OK. Will you confirm that the payments were made? Or that the payments relate to your defense?
Girdler: If you look at the … we have full disclosure and as you mention, they’re on our payment list. That’s the end of story.
Adams: You agree with me that that’s a reasonable inference from that payment to Mr. Ousley?
Girdler: No, sir.
Adams: You would not agree with that?
Girdler: I don’t agree. It’s all politics, so again, it’s not up for discussion at this point
Carrie Wiese, city attorney: You can just provide the email, Mayor. You explain it very well in the email. I don’t think you need to go any further in open meeting.
Adams: You know, thank you for the email. I don’t think the email is as clear as the city attorney says, but if that’s going to be your statement, I’ll yield to your email.