Category Archives: Democratic Party

More TN partisan sniping over misbehavior

The Tennessee Republican Party has cited the theft charges filed against Hamblen County’s Democratic Party chairman in a news release that declares “misbehavior by Democratic officials has become a theme in 2016.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party has cited domestic violence charges filed against Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, already facing trial on federal corruption charges, as an another example that “Tennessee Republican corruption goes all the way to the core.”

The Morristown Citizen-Tribune reported last week that Timothy Wayne Woodard of Talbott, Hamblen County Democratic chairman and a member of the county election commission, has been indicted by a grand jury on nine misdemeanor counts of theft and illegal removal of documents from the Circuit Court office where he once worked.

The newspaper quoted an investigator as saying there were actually 57 files missing from the court office and all were recovered — 55 from the lawyer’s office where Woodard now works and two from his brief cases. Continue reading

Hamblen County Democratic chair charged with theft

The Hamblen County Democratic Party chairman has been charged with stealing files from the county’s Circuit Court office, reports the Morristown Citizen-Tribune.

Timothy Wayne Woodard, 27, Ponder Drive, Talbott, was indicted Monday by a Hamblen County grand jury for nine counts apiece of illegally removing documents and theft under $500, both misdemeanor offenses.

Woodard, who has graduated law school and recently took the bar exam, is chair of the Hamblen County Democratic Party and a member of the Hamblen County Election Commission, according to Jeff Gardner, administrator of elections.

While prosecutors only presented evidence in nine cases, authorities recovered 57 original files that Woodard allegedly stole, according to Teddy Collingsworth, a criminal investigator with the district attorney’s office.

District Attorney General Dan Armstrong declined to publicly comment on a possible motive in the alleged thefts… Woodard, like anybody else, could have copied the redacted files, which would not have included Social Security numbers and other private identifiers, according to the district attorney.

Armstrong said the criminal inquiry began in early July after Teresa West, Hamblen County Circuit Court clerk, contacted his office.

Woodard worked for the circuit court clerk’s office under a previous administration, but none of the files he allegedly stole were taken while he was working for county government, according to Collingsworth.

Fifty-five of the stolen files allegedly were recovered at a law office in Jefferson County where Woodard was working, according to Armstrong, The other two reportedly were found in the defendant’s brief case.

Holt vs. TNDP on election administrator’s exit

A Tennessee Democratic Party press release criticizing a new state law declaring that only Republicans can serve as county election commission chairs included a line that says Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, “had a local Weakley County election administrator fired and then replaced her with his inexperienced friend.”

Holt has responded to that with a missive to state Democratic Chair Mary Mancini, declaring in part the “disgraceful & slanderous accusations are baseless, and serve as a reminder that the modern Democratic Party is wrought with corruption.” He included a copy of former Weakley County Election Administrator Barbara Castleman’s letter of resignation to show she left of her “own volition.”

And TNDP’s communications director, Spencer Bowers, has in turn responded to Holt with a “correction” to the press release acknowledging that Holt did not fire the election administrator, then adding, “What he did was much worse. By recommending the removal and replacement of three members of the 5-member election commission he manipulated the system until he got what he wanted, the job for his inexperienced friend.”

Holt includes a link to the blog post (HERE) that included the TNDP press release. TNDP includes a link to a Jackson Sun story describing event leading to Castleman’s departure.

(Note: The Sun story quotes Castleman as blaming Holt’s activities for her decision to quit and avoid “the hassle of the representative calling my shots and things.” Link to full story below with TNDP release; short blog version HERE.)

The Holt letter and the Bowers response are both below. Continue reading

Shelby County Democratic Party disbanded

The Shelby County Democratic Party was forcibly disbanded Friday, punctuating years of bitter in-fighting that have recently revolved around former chairman Bryan Carson, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini said she notified SCDP chairman Michael Pope in a letter Friday that she had chosen to “de-certify” the state’s largest county party, effectively disbanding it.

“Shelby County is very valuable to the Democratic party because there are some good and active Democrats in this county,” she said. “The decision was made because the Shelby County Democratic Party was not supporting, engaging and encouraging all those good and active Democrats.”

In the letter, she said the TNDP would work with local Democrats to “determine their own needs, evaluate the effectiveness of past bylaws and leadership, elect officers and executive committee members, and enact reforms that bring in new people and build a strong grassroots organization.”

Corey Strong, a state party executive committee member representing Memphis, said a party whose main purpose was to organize support around electing Democratic candidates had been rendered ineffective by internal issues, as displayed in past elections.

Most recently, county party members have quarrelled about how to handle allegations that former chairman Carson embezzled more than $25,000 in his tenure. At the direction of Mancini, SCDP chairman Pope approved a $6,000 settlement with Carson, even though the county executive committee had already approved a resolution to file charges against Carson, leading to shouting matches at recent committee meetings.

Strong said the party was being disbanded because it wasn’t “living up to its purpose.”

“This is not about an individual,” he said. “This is about a systemic inability to meet the party’s own charter and the minimum requirements of the state party.”

He said state executive committee members from Memphis were the ones who pushed Mancini to decertify the party because they didn’t want the party to “flounder on the local level.”

Carson and his mother, Gale Jones Carson, are both members of the state executive committee.

Strong said the party would be reorganized, possibly as early as November, under the supervision of local elected Democrats. The party’s money would be moved into a trust until the party is reconstituted. A meeting with party stakeholders is scheduled in two weeks, Mancini said.

TNDP chooses slate of 11 presidential electors

The Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee has chosen a slate of 11 members of the Electoral College who will cast their votes for Hillary Clinton should the Democratic nominee carry the state in the November election – a prospect, of course, generally deemed unlikely.

Two of the Democratic electors, Richard Eskind of Nashville and Gale Jones Carson of Memphis, are designated as statewide electors representing Tennessee’s two U.S. Senate seats. (Eskind was husband of the late Jane Eskind, the first woman to win a statewide elective office in Tennessee – the old Public Service Commission – and once the party’s nominee for a U.S. Senate seat.)

The other seats are designated as representing each of the state’s nine congressional districts. Here’s a list of the Democratic electors by congressional district, as provided by the Tennessee Democratic Party:

Nancy Fischman of Johnson City, 1st Congressional District
Roy Cockrum of Knoxville, 2nd Congressional District.
Annie Hall of Signal Mountain, 3rd Congressional District
John T. Bragg Jr. of Murfreesboro, 4th Congressional District
Andrea Conte of Nashville, 5th Congressional District. (Note: Conte is the spouse of former Gov. Phil Bredesen.)
Aubrey T. Givens of Lebanon, 6th Congressional District
Michael T. Cartwright of Franklin, 7th Congressional District
Michael McWherter of Dresden, 8th Congressional District (Note: McWherter is the son of the late former Gov. Ned McWherter)
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis, 9th Congressional District

TNDP chair enters bona fide battle over former Shelby chair

Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini says Bryan Carson, former Shelby County Democratic Party chairman, is still a bona fide Democrat despite a vote to the contrary by the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Mancini said the resolution declaring Carson “not fit” to seek office on the Democratic ticket and not a “bona fide Democrat” circumvented the process laid out in state party bylaws for officially revoking Democratic credentials. The party’s vote follows internal strife in the SCDP over how to handle bookkeeping errors during Carson’s tenure that some members say amounts to his embezzling more than $25,000.

She said Democratic bona fides — which are necessary to have “Democrat” next to a candidate’s name on a ballot — can only be revoked if the person is a candidate and if they haven’t voted in three of the previous five Democratic primary elections. Neither applies to Carson, she said. Continue reading

Former Democratic chair deemed ‘not fit’ for party label

The Shelby County Democratic Party executive committee voted 14-5 Thursday night to declare former chairman Bryan Carson “not fit” to run for public office as a Democrat, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Executive committee member Del Gill proposed the resolution, which reiterated accusations made in a resolution approved by the committee June 2 that Carson embezzled “at least $25,000” during his tenure as committee chairman.

Gill has filed a criminal complaint against Carson, and said the investigation is ongoing.

“The intent here is that Mr. Carson has some personal issues he needs to address,” Gill said.

Carson, who denies the allegations, can appeal the vote to Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini, SCDP officials said at the meeting. Both Carson and his mother, Gale Jones Carson, are on the state executive committee.

“I was unaware they were taking that vote,” he said late Thursday. “I’ll contact chairman Pope and Mary Mancini this weekend and see what I need to do as far as getting bona fides back. I thought all this was over with.”

The controversy has been festering for more than a year after bubbling over in February 2015, when Bryan Carson resigned after he couldn’t account for some expenses during his tenure as chairman. He has already paid hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees he incurred, and gave the SCDP $2,000 in February.

TN Democratic convention notes: ‘bad sister,’ Andy Berke, Karl Dean, Bernie, etc.

‘She’s a bad sister’
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis, at 32 one of the Tennessee legislature’s youngest members, got three minutes on stage at the convention Thursday — the first Tennessean to speak at a Democratic convention since 2008.

From The Tennessean report:

“My fellow young people — we have a choice, and it’s crystal clear! What side of history do we want to be on? Which political leader will we allow to define our generation?” she asked.

Akbari… suggested that Clinton would help fight for debt-free college for everyone, free community college and work to advance new “strategies” to combat the problems unique to those in her generation.

“Will you join me and support a leader who understands that the deep racial wounds of our country have not yet healed, but together we can work to be the change we wish to see in the world?” she asked, before plugging Clinton’s credentials, which date back to the former secretary of state’s law school days, work with the Children’s Defense Fund and her time as first lady.

“Come on y’all, she’s a bad sister!” Akbari said, going off script while reiterating a phrase she previously used when introducing Clinton at an event in Memphis last year. Continue reading

More notes on TN Democrats in Philadelphia

Bashing Trump
Excerpt from the third edition of Mark Harmon’s “Delegate Diary:”

No one can beat the Bernie Sanders delegates for great headgear. At Monday’s big events for Bernie, many of his supporters wore green felt Robin-Hood-style caps, complete with feathers on one side. These were a delightful play on Sanders’ message that wealth inequality is a consequence of the rigging of our economy and our politics. The “rob from the rich, give to the poor” metaphor was a subtle reply to the reactionaries on talk radio and Fox News.

Speaker after speaker has derided Donald Trump as divisive, and he certainly has been — but he is unifying Democrats in disgust at his candidacy. David Bone, a legislative assistant from Nashville, said, “The chickens have come home to roost on the Republican side of the ticket. You can’t spend 30 years of policies trying to make people afraid and hate, and not expect to end up with a candidate like Donald Trump.”

Dennis Patrick is a 72-year-old Vietnam combat veteran from Cleveland, Tenn. He says Trump is a bigot and only interested in helping himself.

“Trump is a loudmouth, a carnival barker trying to tell you what’s under the tent,” Patrick said. “Once you look under that tent, there’s nothing there.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, denounced Trump as an embarrassment, a sociopath and a narcissist.

“If we get behind Hillary, we will get the Senate and make gains in the House,” Cohen said of presidential nominee Clinton.

To him, the biggest issue will be appointees to the Supreme Court. Clinton’s nominees, he declared, would be qualified and responsible; Trump’s choices would move the court in dangerous directions for a generation.

…Nashville-area Congressman Jim Cooper added that little more than 100 days remained to work hard to “make sure America goes in the right direction.” He warned, “We cannot let Trump ruin America. … Bill Clinton carried Tennessee twice, so why can’t we carry it for his wife?” Continue reading

Notes on Tennesseans at Democratic convention

Mark Harmon, a former Knox County commissioner and Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention, is writing a “Delegate Diary” for the News Sentinel.

In his second post, Harmon advises that he’s “been thinking about what is trending at this Democratic National Convention.” One thing is attention to “some prominent younger delegates.”

And there’s a good bit of general commentary on Tennessee delegation doings.

Delegates here constantly are using their phones, checking on bus schedules, taking selfies, receiving text messages from campaigns, looking up something on the internet, taking a peek at email, or sending a quick note to friends and family. Monday night I even participated in a Facetime interview with a Nashville TV station.

Brad Batt, a Johnson City delegate for Bernie Sanders, was pleased that at this convention he connected with some people he had known earlier only via Facebook.

Harmon’s first post is focused onthe trip to Philadelphia and the general lay of the landscape.

The convention is something of a design-your-own adventure. More than 400 events are scheduled, many in the convention sites but several are off site — including everything from a film festival to an outdoor concert in Camden featuring Lady Gaga. Throughout the mornings and afternoons the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia will be the hub of activity, but in the evening we will gather four miles south in the Wells Fargo Center, the sports arena transformed for the televised spectacular that is the face of a modern U. S. party convention.

Our hotel hosts not only the Tennessee delegation, but also those from Michigan and Minnesota. One doesn’t have to stay at the assigned hotel, but it really becomes a practical necessity. Each day’s credentials are distributed at 8 a.m. at the breakfast gathering in the hotel. Each breakfast has an assigned speaker, and our delegates are pleased that our first speaker Monday will be U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. Continue reading