Operation Tennessee Waltz
Four Tennessee Legislators came to work on Capitol Hill in Nashville and left in handcuffs.
"It doesn't surprise me. It would be hard to believe that it was limited to one body (Ford)...that kind of conduct has no place around here." - Rep. Frank Buck, D-DowelltownThe four were arrested after sponsoring a bill which would have allowed electronic recycling companies to contract with the state to dispose of surplus state computer equipment not claimed by school districts. Undercover agents posed as a company (E-Cycle Management, inc.) looking to benefit from crooked politicans. The lawmakers took the bait and began extorting money from the agents, even issuing death threats. The four are accused of violating the Hobbs Act which deals with extortion by the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear. Ford is also accused of counts of attempting to intimidate a witness. He faces up to 40 years in prision.
Tennessee politicians have been busy working to tighten ethical rules, due to the exposure of Senator John Ford's unethical dealings with lobbyists and special interest groups. Senator John Ford's nephew, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. just announced that he's running for the Senate seat to be vacated by Bill Frist.
"Government is not for sale" - U.S. Attorney Terrell HarrisUpdate: Senator Ford threatened to kill an undercover FBI agent. Pages 9, 10, and 11 of his indictment detail the threats Ford made.
(click for a larger view)
Update: 3 more arrested! Former lawmakers Roscoe Dixon, Barry Myers and Charles Love were arrested. Love is a Hamilton County School Board member. An eighth person has yet to be arrested.
Update: Blogger/bad speller/pol also known as Rep. Stacey Campfield thinks the first wave of arrests are just "the tip of the iceberg". Rumors are flying around on who is going to go next.
Update: Ford resigns after arrest.
Kathryn Bowers, John Ford,
Chris Newton, Ward Crutchfield
Arrested (click on names for charges):
Sen. John Ford, (D) Memphis - $55,000 in illegal payments
Sen. Ward Crutchfield, (D) Chattanooga - $12,000
Sen. Kathryn Bowers, (D) Memphis - $11,500
Rep. Chris Newton, (R) Cleveland - $4,500
Roscoe Dixon, (D) Memphis - $9,500
(Sources - WBIR - Tennessean - Newschannel 5 - WSMV)
Posts on Sen. John Ford: Who's Your Daddy and Who's Your Daddy: Part 2
WBIR has video of the press conference
Nashville Is Talking
Pith in the Wind
One Hand Clapping
The Pulse Blog
Six Meat Buffet
Outside The Beltway
Ankle Biting Pundits