Michelle Williams Not Legally a Covington Commissioner, County Attorney Concludes
Covington City Commissioner Michelle Williams can no longer hold her office, according to Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmonson who concluded his investigation into the freshman commissioner's criminal history.
In a letter obtained by The River City News, Edmonson writes, "Considering the multiple high misdemeanors of which Ms. Williams has been convicted here in the Commonwealth, the military bad conduct discharge, and her additional criminal history, it is my opinion in the capacity of Kenton County Attorney and advisor to the Kenton County Board of Elections the Kentucky Constitution does not permit Ms. Williams to continue to serve in her office as Covington Commissioner. Indeed, it is my opinion that the office is vacated immediately as a matter of law. I further believe it is the duty of the Covington City Commission to appoint a replacement commissioner, pursuant to statute for a vacated office, without delay."
Edmonson began investigating Williams' criminal record earlier this week after it was revealed that the 44-year old Williams had been convicted on multiple misdemeanor charges ranging from theft to disorderly conduct to drug-related offenses as recently as 2010 well as a military court martial in the late 1980s.
According to the Kentucky Constitution, those convicted of felonies or high misdemeanors cannot hold public office without a pardon from the Governor. While the definition of felonies is clear, Edmonson wrote that there is some vagueness as to what constitutes "high misdemeanors".
However, the county attorney concluded that Williams' three Class A misdemeanor convictions, the highest level of misdemeanors in the Commonwealth, do meet the requirements for removal from office.
"It is my opinion that Williams three Class A misdemeanor unquesitonably involve the sort of "high misdemeanors" to which section 150 of the Kentucky Constitution refers, in that each specifically implicates the traditional and historical understandings of "moral turpitude"discussed herein."
Edmonson also addressed Williams' 1988 court martial that she received while serving in the United States Army where she was charged with theft of personal property and United States mail.
"It should be noted that military courts martial are typically reserved for the most serious of offenses," Edmonson writes, "including specifically those crimes that would be considered felonies if they were tried in civilian courts."
A copy of Edmonson's letter was sent to Covington City Hall where the legal department is currently reviewing it and could not immediately offer any specifics on what is to happen next. A copy was also sent to Williams and her attorney.
Williams, of the Eastside neighborhood, was elected to the city commission last November, finishing in second place.
Members of the Covington City Commission were advised not to comment by City Solicitor Frank Warnock but Commissioner Steve Frank offered a remark on Facebook. "Everybody wants a statement and no one is making them for all the obvious reasons," Frank wrote at The River City News Facebook page. "Nonetheless, here is mine: Tonight I couldn't give a wit about what the law says nor the politics. I am concerned about Michelle the person and you should be, too. If it's just a story for you so you can be entertained or feel superior or it's an angle for your politics or you are sincerely outraged, just stop for a minute. There will be enough time for whatever follows. If you can't, you are the one with the bigger problem."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News