Mancini orders Shelby Democrats to settle with former chair

From the Commercial Appeal:
Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini issued an ultimatum Friday to the Shelby County Democratic Party: Forget bringing criminal charges against former chairman Bryan Carson and agree to a settlement with him — or else.

At Mancini’s direction, SCDP chairman Michael Pope then signed a $6,000 settlement with Carson, who was accused by the SCDP executive committee in a June 2 resolution of embezzling more than $25,000. Carson said Tuesday he already made his first $100 payment.

“Hopefully this directive will settle everything,” said Carson, who denies the accusations but acknowledges he should have kept better records of expenses. He said the embezzling accusations were the result of “malicious underlings” within the party.

But signing the settlement was a controversial move that will likely be opposed at the SCDP executive committee meeting July 7, although whether the committee can nullify the settlement is a disputed point between the party’s factions.

“They don’t have the authority to do that,” Del Gill, an executive committee member who supports legal action, said of Mancini’s directive.

“So, she can go to hell,” he added.

In her letter, Mancini said the party’s bylaws and state law gave her authority to issue the ultimatum, but she didn’t cite specific provisions.

Mancini wrote that pursuing criminal charges would send the party “down a path of further deterioration” at a time of internal “dysfunction” and following a $10,000 penalty June 8 for a late campaign finance filing. She also implied the state party could take action if a settlement wasn’t signed by July 1.

…Gill said he filed a criminal complaint with the Memphis Police Department on June 16, and doesn’t plan to drop the complaint — whatever Mancini says. The investigation is still in its infancy, he added.

…”They’re playing with pure fire, and it won’t work,” he said. “She’s not going to win.”