City council votes to remove mayor of Bardstown

Bardstown Mayor John Royalty listened to a discussion during a city council meeting.
Bardstown Mayor John Royalty listened to a discussion during a city council meeting. The Kentucky Standard

The Bardstown city council voted unanimously Thursday to remove Mayor John Royalty, a former Lexington police officer, from office.

The council found that the mayor had used city resources and personnel to access the private emails of Councilwoman Kecia Copeland, violated Copeland’s privacy by disseminating private email, and ordered a city employee to lie to the council to get access to their iPads, The Kentucky Standard reported. The council found that there was “substantial evidence” that Royalty broke the law, the newspaper reported.

Copeland told the newspaper after the hearing that vindication was “not what it was about.”

“My concern was for the city of Bardstown, so today it was for the people, for our community,” she said — they were the ones “who won.”

Bardstown Fire Capt. Todd Spalding and a city information technology official were among the group testifying that Royalty had asked them to help him get information on Copeland, according to The Kentucky Standard.

City IT supervisor Brandon Brewer testified Wednesday that he was instructed by the mayor in October to get access to council members’ city-issued iPads under the guise of a required update, according to The Kentucky Standard. Once the iPads were acquired, Royalty printed several of Copeland’s personal emails using city equipment, Brewer testified.

Royalty is a former Lexington officer who was fired after he pulled a gun during an off-duty dispute at a fast-food restaurant in the early 1990s. Royalty also was fired as a Bardstown officer in 1998 for violating a use-of-force policy.

He testified in his own defense Thursday, saying his actions were within his executive authority and that he had been trying to preserve public documents, according to The Kentucky Standard. Lexington attorney Scott Crosbie conducted a three-month investigation for the city council.

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