The Georgetown Ethics Board heard a complaint against city councilmembers Marvin Thompson and Polly Singer Eardley after their exchange during the Sept. 9 city council meeting featuring a debate over the recently passed Fairness Ordinance.

The board ultimately determined the complaint did not constitute a violation of the ethical standards contained with the city’s current ordinance. The ordinance pertaining to ethical standards states, “it is to provide a method of assuring that standards of ethical conduct and financial disclosure requirements for officers and employees of the city shall be clearly established.” 

The ordinance specifically addresses conflicts of interest in general and in contracts, receipt of gifts, use of city property, equipment and personnel, representation of interests before city government, post-employment restriction, misuse of confidential information, fees and honoraria, complicity with or knowledge of others’ violations, incompatible offices and withdrawal from participation.

The complaint did not meet any of that criteria, the ethics board decided.

During a break in the meeting, Thompson made crude remarks caught on an open mic to Singer Eardley who laughed at them and said, “Exactly.”

Residents filed a complaint against the councilmembers in “reaction to their inappropriate behavior” it states. The complaint obtained by the News-Graphic via an Open Records Request, redacted the names of the complainants based on KRS 61.878 (personal nature).

The exchange, according to the complaint, was as follows:

Singer Eardley: “(unintelligible)…discriminated against on their own.”

Thompson: “I’m not worried about it. I’m going to vote what is right for me.”

Singer Eardley: “Me too.”

Thompson: “You are not going to take my Christian morals. As my wife says, I don’t care if you want to screw a tree. Just keep it in your damn house and don’t tell nobody about it.”

Singer Eardley: “(laughing) Marvin”

Thompson: “It’s none of our business what you do, just don’t put it on us.”

Singer Eardley: “Exactly.”

Thompson apologized at the Sept. 23 meeting, saying he should have chosen his words a lot different than what he did.

The complaint states the exchange demonstrated “several disturbing behaviors.” The complaint alleges that their job is to do what is right for their constituents, not themselves, and called the exchange “reprehensible” after more than 20 people spoke in favor of the ordinance sharing personal stories of discrimination.

“Mr. Thompson’s and Ms. Singer-Eardley’s words clearly demonstrate the prejudice that prompted the Fairness Ordinance, and it would have been helpful if they, specifically, had paid attention to the speakers during the ‘public comments’ portion of the meeting,” the complaint states. “These actions show that they are incapable of representing ALL of their constituents, as they are elected to do.”

The complaint goes on to ask that the two councilmembers attend diversity/inclusion training at their own expense to learn appropriate behavior and requests a public apology.

The ethics board did a preliminary investigation and then terminated it after the ruling.

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