Following a tumultuous week for Mayor A C Wharton’s re-election effort, campaign manager Deidre Malone and contractor Taser International announced Thursday that Malone won’t be marketing the city’s new body cameras, reports the Commercial Appeal.
Under intense scrutiny, Malone and Taser agreed to cancel her company’s five-year, $880,147 subcontract “by mutual consent.” Arizona-based Taser was hired Sept. 2 to provide 2,000 body cameras to the city for $4.5 million in the first year with multiple extension options that are expected to increase the contract to $9.4 million over five years. Malone’s company was selected by Taser to provide marketing for the program.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Taser executive Steve Tuttle said the company was “disappointed” that Carter Malone Group didn’t disclose Malone’s paid role in the campaign. Taser representatives had previously stated they found out about her connection to Wharton in late August.
“While The Carter Malone Group was selected based upon merit and its quality of work, TASER has a code of Business Conduct and Ethics which prohibits its contractors from having a business relationship that can even be perceived as an attempt to influence business decisions,” Tuttle said.
Taser is still committed to meeting the city’s goal of having 10 percent minority- or women-owned business participation in the project, and would work with the city to find a substitute, he said.
Malone didn’t return a call seeking comment Thursday, but released a statement that she had done nothing that “can be considered unethical or improper.”