Tag Archives: Mary Mancini

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 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

Shelby Democrats balk on deal with former chair

The Shelby County Democratic Party, on a 10-10 tie vote, failed to ratify chairman Michael Pope’s signing of a settlement with former chairman Bryan Carson, reports the Commercial Appeal. That may set up a vote in August to censure Pope.

The members of the party’s executive committee hotly debated parliamentary procedure for much of the raucous meeting, which lasted until late into the evening, leading some to walk out.

Del Gill, an SCDP executive committee member who was defeated by Pope in the chairmanship election June 2, circulated a resolution Thursday that said Pope overruled the committee in violation of the party’s bylaws when he signed a $6,000 settlement to resolve a dispute between the party and Carson over Carson’s handling of party finances as chairman.

The resolution wasn’t proposed at the meeting, but Gill said he’ll make the motion at the next meeting Aug. 11.

Pope said the meeting went “well,” but that the vote didn’t change the fact that the settlement is on the books and Carson has already paid the first of his $100-per-month payments.

“As far as the settlement, it’s done,” he said.

Pope was ordered to sign the settlement by state party chairwoman Mary Mancini in a June 24 letter, but didn’t receive approval from the executive committee before signing it on June 27.

At the heart of the disagreement is a committee vote early this year to offer Carson a $6,000 settlement, although the settlement wasn’t agreed to then. The committee voted 14-7 on June 2 to approve a resolution accusing Carson of embezzling $25,000 or more and endorsing criminal charges. Gill then filed charges with Memphis police against Carson.

Gill’s resolution argues Pope didn’t have the authority to settle without another vote by the executive committee, and calls for him to sign the resolution censoring him or face “disciplinary considerations.”

In a letter to the executive committee Wednesday, Rep. Joe Towns Jr., on behalf of the committee he chairs in the Shelby County Democratic Legislative Caucus, said the settlement is “legally binding” and “must be adhered to in order to prevent additional negative attention and financial exposure to the local party.” Towns did not immediately respond to a phone call Thursday.

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.”

Mancini bashes supermajority session; GOP bashes Mancini

Excerpt from a Richard Locker report on Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini’s news conference on the recently-ended session of the state Legislature:

“This year’s legislative session and the 109th General Assembly perfectly illustrate the differences between Tennessee Democrats and Republicans. Republicans are in the supermajority in the Legislature and at every critical moment when they could have shown leadership they instead at best said ‘There’s nothing we can do’ and at worse showed themselves to be unethical, self-serving extremists,” Mancini said.

“They spent hours debating the state book, the state rifle and whether or not skunks should be house pets — but refused to bring Insure Tennessee to the House floor for even one minute of discussion. They fought hard to give tax breaks to the top wage earners while doing nothing to address the fact that Tennessee has the highest percentage of low-wage workers in the nation.”

Her remarks included references to bills designating the Bible as the “official book of Tennessee,” which the governor vetoed, and the Murfreesboro-made Barrett M82 sniper rifle as the state’s official rifle, which was approved; the failure for the second year of Haslam’s plan to expand health coverage to up to 280,000 low-income working residents, and an approved reduction in the state’s Hall income tax on investment earnings.

…The party chairman said 104 Democrats are running for the state Legislature and for Congress this year: 77 running in 68 state House districts, 10 in six state Senate districts and 17 in nine congressional districts.

Mancini would not predict how well Democrats will do in the state elections.

Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, called Mancini’s statement “over-the-top rhetoric” and a “silly attempt to obscure the fact that they supported an indicted representative and spent taxpayer time sponsoring far-left bills for mandatory” erectile dysfunction treatment and studying “swingers’ clubs.”

“Maybe that’s a winning formula in San Francisco but it’s a guaranteed loser in Tennessee,” Leatherwood said in a statement.

The erectile dysfunction bill he cited, House Bill 1927, was apparently an attempt to draw attention to the impact of anti-abortion legislation because it required 48-hour waiting period for a physician to write a prescription for an ED drug and mandatory counseling. The other bill, HB 1269, asked for a study of the potential regulation of “swingers’ clubs” and was introduced in 2015 when the planned location of a club next door to a school generated considerable controversy. But it was never discussed in a committee and later withdrawn.

Holt calls for Mancini’s resignation

News release from Rep. Andy Holt
On Tuesday, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) called for Tennessee Democratic Chairwoman Mary Mancini’s resignation in response to her attack on Republican leadership.

“Mary seems to be a one trick show,” said Holt. “Not a single shred of evidence of any wrongdoing regarding misconduct, which would warrant the resignation of House Speaker Beth Harwell, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick or Caucus Chairman Glen Casada has been presented, yet Mary rushes to the cameras to call for resignations. This is essentially her one and only trick. Quite frankly, it’s starting to become a joke. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
Continue reading

Democratic chief calls for resignation of House GOP leaders

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini today called for the resignations of Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, reports the Times-Free Press. She contends the leaders sought to shield Republican Majority Whip Jeremy Durham despite knowing of sexual harassment allegations against him.

In a news conference, Mancini attacked what she called a “culture of secrecy and coverups” and charged Republicans created a “toxic workplace” with regard to Durham, who stepped down from his caucus post on Sunday after allegations surfaced from three women who work at the Legislature regarding unwanted texts from the Franklin Republican.

“The mishandling of his offensive behavior by House Republican leadership also raises serious questions about the complicity of Speaker Harwell, Leader Gerald McCormick and Chairman Glen Casada.”

Alluding to accounts in a Tennessean news article over the weekend, Mancini said all three “knew the substance of Durham’s inappropriate behavior at least one week in advance of the caucus vote and likely much earlier.”
She said various statements from Republicans showed Durham’s “inappropriate behavior rose to the level of sexual harassment.”

On Sunday, Durham resigned his post as House Majority Whip in light of a Tennessean investigation into inappropriate text messages Durham sent to three women.

UPDATE/Note: Harwell says the Mancini missive is “absolute nonsense.” That’s toward the bottom of this post. And Mancini’s full statement is below.
Continue reading

Haslam, other politicos: VW troubles shouldn’t hurt TN

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As an emissions cheating scandal engulfs the German automaker Volkswagen, Tennessee officials are trying to soothe fears about the potential impact on the company’s Chattanooga factory, the crown jewel of the state’s economic development efforts of the last decade.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday he’s been assured by officials at the Tennessee plant and Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg, Germany, headquarters that “nothing has changed” for their Tennessee operations.

“Obviously we’re concerned about the impact, but their reassurance is this is not going to change their business plan in Chattanooga,” he said.

Chattanooga was selected in 2008 as the site of Volkswagen’s first U.S. plant in decades. It was part of a strategy endorsed by then-CEO Martin Winterkorn to boost North American sales. Winterkorn resigned Wednesday, days after admitting that the world’s top-selling carmaker had rigged diesel emissions to pass U.S. tests during his tenure.
Continue reading

A TN partisan press release squabble over Planned Parenthood

Prior to a state legislative committee hearing on Planned Parenthood, which Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black planned to attend, Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini issued a press release decrying the GOP “witch hunt.” Black responded. So did state Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes. The press releases follow.

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party
“Tennessee Republican legislators are falling in lock step behind Diane Black and the Republican National Committee and publicly showcasing how they’d rather follow their leaders in Washington instead of working to address the very real problems that face Tennesseans today.

Here’s the reality: 280,000 hardworking men and women across the state still don’t have access to affordable healthcare because Republicans failed to pass Insure TN; Hundreds of corrections officers are being overworked and underpaid while Governor Haslam’s Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) appointee says ‘no problems here;’ Thousands of maintenance and operations workers are about to lose their jobs so that politically connected corporations can line their pocket with state contracts; and hardworking Tennesseans still can’t make a decent living because the Republicans won’t raise the minimum wage. Yet these same Republican legislators want to waste time and taxpayer money looking for a problem that doesn’t exist in Tennessee to score political points like Diane Black, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell?
Continue reading