by Sam Levin
According to his foes, Adam Paul, the 32-year-old mayor of Ellisville, gave the city many legitimate reasons to oust him. The most colorful one -- which his critics later backed off of, in part because it seems they didn't have a lot of proof -- was that he was drinking vodka on the job. Ever since the controversy erupted, Paul and his attorneys have said that he has been the victim of a coordinated political attack to impeach him -- and that he doesn't deserve to have his name slandered this way.
And now, at least temporarily, he has his old job back, as mandated by a direct order of a St. Louis county judge.
"He is very pleased. This has been stressful not only for him, but for the people that he represents," his attorney Chet Pleban tells Daily RFT. "This is a 32-year-old man who ran against three other candidates and got elected with 44 percent of the vote."
What went wrong?
As we reported back in March, Paul -- who ran on a platform against a Walmart development project that some of his elected colleagues supported -- faced an intense backlash from a group of Ellisville officials and members of the council.
In addition to saying he drank on the job, his opponents accused him of violating various city charter rules, cursing inappropriately, improperly disclosing confidential information, failing to control meetings -- and a lot more.
With such a diverse range of complaints, including some very bizarre ones, his attorneys have long argued that this is clearly nothing more than an organized effort to get rid of a new politician that many residents in Ellisville did support.
The movement to impeach him even garnered a lengthy piece in the New York Times back in April.
His opponents were successful -- at first. But as soon as they ousted him, he and his attorneys vowed to fight in court, and with a ruling from Judge David Lee Vincent yesterday, Paul officially has his job back. It is, however, only a reinstatement pending the final disposition of his lawsuit alleging that he was improperly removed from office in the first place.
"This is a great day for government generally," says Pleban, arguing that this proves that officials can't just impeach mayors for political disagreements. "You can impeach a mayor for trying to save the city some money?...For asking a question on behalf of constituents?.... Then you can impeach any politician in this state for any concocted political reason. And that's not right. That's not good government. That would be utter chaos."
Daily RFT left a message with the city attorney of Ellisville who had worked with a group of council members to oust Paul. We'll update if we hear back.
Pleban says that it's only fair that Paul return as mayor as a judge reviews this complex case and seemingly endless list of accusations.
"We have enough issues in this case to fill a book," he says. "The [impeachment] trial was three-and-a-half days. That's a lot of transcript and a lot of information that has to be reviewed."
For now, Pleban explains, "It's as though he hasn't been removed. Until the judge gets the opportunity to review everything in its entirety, [he'll remain mayor]."
Speaking of winning the election with 44 percent of the vote, Pleban adds, "That is not a small number. I think that it's been stressful for those folks. And It's been stressful for his wife and...children."
He adds, "It takes a toll."
Here's the judge's full order.