Lexington lawyer’s investigation could lead to Bardstown mayor’s removal

Mayor John Royalty
Mayor John Royalty

The Bardstown City Council will meet in closed session Tuesday night for a discussion that could lead to the disciplining or dismissal of Mayor John Royalty.

City Clerk Barbie Bryant made the announcement by emailing the agenda of the meeting to city officials and reporters just after 4 p.m. Friday.

Councilman John Kelley said the closed session will be to review the investigatory report by Lexington lawyer Scott Crosbie, who was hired by the council to look into possible misconduct in city government. If the council votes right after the closed session to approve the report, it will be discussed in open session in the mayor’s presence, and the council would decide what action to take.

“The mayor will be given a copy of it at the meeting if it’s a final report and not the preliminary report, and I think it will be the final report,” Kelley said.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Royalty said calmly when the Standard called him Friday afternoon after receiving the agenda.

He said there are two members of the council (referring to Kecia Copeland and Roland Williams) who were on the council in 2015-16 and have wanted him investigated almost from the start of his term.

“It’s just been the same old thing ever since I was elected. It’s just a shame, but I will continue to do my job and move the city forward,” he said.

Royalty said he would prefer that the media discuss details with his lawyers, Jason Floyd and Doug Hubbard, but when asked whether he would appeal any decision by the council to discipline or dismiss him, he said he would appeal to Nelson Circuit Court, and if necessary, to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and beyond.

“As far as it has to go, absolutely. I have done no wrong,” he said. “This isn’t for the people at all. This is personal.”

Former Councilman Fred Hagan made the proposal last November to hire a lawyer from outside Nelson County to investigate whether any laws were broken in connection to some documents about Copeland and former Councilman Francis Lydian that were anonymously left for city officials and reporters at a council meeting.

Kelley took over leading the investigation in January because Hagan didn’t run for re-election.

The council decided to broaden the investigation into other, unspecified areas, and Kelley let it be known that Royalty was the main focus.

Under Kentucky law, the city council could remove the mayor for misconduct, willful neglect or incapacity, but it would have to be by a unanimous vote.

The council would then have 30 days to fill the vacancy, or the governor would appoint the mayor’s successor.