State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron is foregoing his party pay while acting as an attorney for the plaintiffs in an ongoing medical malpractice trial that he says could last “five or six weeks.”
Herron sent an email to fellow Democrats saying that he had committed more than five years ago to “a wonderful couple, both devout Democrats, that I would represent them in a case seeking medical care and redress for grievous injuries to their severely disabled grandson.”
In an interview Wednesday, Herron said Cody Wade, 17 at the time, underwent surgery on his trachea that allegedly left him unable to breath for a period of time, resulting in severe disabilities. The lawsuit, brought by Cody’s grandparents and conservators, Reba and Ronnie Wade of Martin, is against HealthSouth King Creek Rehabilitation Hospital and two physicians.
A jury trial began Monday in Weakley County Circuit Court.
Herron said he decided to forego his salary as party chairman starting May 15, when he attended a son’s college graduation, and will continue in that status until the trial has ended and he can resume fulltime duties as party chair.
The former state senator said that, in effect, he is returning temporarily to the “volunteer chairman model” followed by seven of the last ten state Democratic chairmen. His two immediate predecessors, Gray Sasser and Chip Forrester, were full-time chairs with a full salary – as was he until now.
Herron said he still expects to average 80 hours per week for the full year, since he often spends 100 hours per week on party labors otherwise. Even during the trial, Herron said he is remaining active in fundraising, overseeing staff including the hiring of a new deputy finance director and other duties.
Note: Text of Herron’s email is below.
Over five years ago I committed to a wonderful couple, both devout Democrats, that I would represent them in a case seeking medical care and redress for grievous injuries to their severely disabled grandson. We have mediated the case — twice — but the wrongdoers have been unwilling to adequately help the victim and thus this family’s jury trial starts on Monday.
I’ve been “off the payroll” since before attending Nancy and my son’s college graduation, and I will remain an unpaid chair until after the conclusion of the trial.
That has not meant that I have quit doing TNDP work — to the contrary!
Since going off the payroll May 15th, I have hired a new Deputy Finance Director, worked dozens of hours, and today I raised another $5,000, met with our interns, met with various staff, arranged housing for interns, and completed other work that needed to be done.
Our Finance Director, Jake Dunavant, our new Deputy Finance Director, Cortyne Stone, and our Treasurer, Wade Munday, as well as others, have agreed to make fundraising calls so the Party continues to raise needed resources. In addition, we had a highly successful May 14th fundraiser with our DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schulz, so we’ve got a little breathing room.
Even during this trial, at nights and on weekends I will do whatever is needed for our Party. But during this trial, we will operate on the volunteer, part-time chairman model used by the TNDP during the service of seven of our last ten chairs.
If you have needs that are urgent, please do not hesitate to contact our Executive Director, Kevin Teets. If you have something that requires my personal attention, then certainly Kevin will let me know and we will do what needs to be done!
I know that we share a commitment to fighting for those who are hurting and to seeing that justice is done. I wish that this trial could have been conducted months and even years ago, but I thank you for understanding my responsibility to this family now.
I look forward to the conclusion of the trial, hopeful of justice then, but also eager to resume focusing on our shared work! I look forward to seeing those of you on the Executive Committee on July 27th, if not before!