Shelby Democrats pick new chair, seek criminal investigation of old chair

Shelby County Democrats elected a new party chairman Thursday night and voted to refer a matter involving a former chairman to authorities for criminal investigation, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Members of the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee voted in favor of a resolution to pursue criminal charges with the Shelby County District Attorney or the sheriff’s office against former party chairman Bryan Carson.

The resolution accuses Carson of “unlawful embezzlement of funds in the amount of at least $25,000” during his term as chairman from March 2013 to January 2015.

The county party had previously attempted to reach a settlement that would have had Carson repay $26,336, an amount that was reached after two reviews of the party’s bank accounts found what party officials have called “unsubstantiated activity.”

Carson declined to comment on the matter last month, but his attorney, Robert Spence, said Carson rejected the allegations of fraud. Spence said Carson might not owe the party anything.

Party leaders said they needed to take action to move beyond the Carson matter.

…Also during the meeting, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Pope, who had been acting chairman, was elected chairman. Virgie Banks was elected first vice chairwoman.

Pope said after the meeting that the party would consult with counsel before formally taking action on the resolution to pursue criminal charges against Carson.