Last year's Tennessee Waltz sting operation resulted in the arrest of a handful of sitting Tennessee legislators and shocked the state.
Most legislators got on the ethics bandwagon, and the Tennessee General Assembly met in a special session and passed ethics legislation in early 2006.
The legislation was intended to rein in influence peddling, conflicts of interest, and bribery both at the state and local levels.
Sadly, Memphis (Shelby County) is in the midst of two new FBI operations--Main Street Sweeper and Clean Sweep.
These operations have resulted in the arrest of two sitting Memphis City Councilmen (Edmund Ford and Rickey Peete) and one former Shelby County Commissioner (Joe Cooper).
A December 2 post discusses the charges against Councilmen Rickey Peete and Edmund Ford.
Now, one of the accused, Edmund Ford, is talking about the money that he took. The Commercial-Appeal has the full story.
Ford has viewed the tape showing him taking money from FBI informant Joe Cooper. Ford says he "laughed" when he saw the tape.
According to Ford, the tape shows him taking a "loan" from Cooper so that he could catch up on financial obligations--one of those obligations being making payments on a Cadillac sport utility vehicle that he leases.
Reportedly, Cooper was a salesman at Bud Davis Cadillac last year when he arranged for Edmund Ford to lease a $50,000 Cadillac SRX.
Ford had bad credit and couldn't qualify for the car on his own, so a local millionaire developer, Rusty Hyneman, graciously co-signed the lease.
Ford says that Hyneman did not co-sign the note in order to influence Ford's votes on development issues. Ford says that Hyneman co-signed the note simply because he is a friend.
Ford also says that when he (Ford) fell behind on the lease payments, another person whom he thought was a friend (Joe Cooper, the former car salesman) lent him money.
Apparently, the FBI looks at the cash payments differently.
The FBI alleges that Ford took a total of $6,900 in three payments between Aug. 30 and Oct. 27, 2006. An affidavit from an FBI agent says that the money was in exchange for Ford's support and influence on a billboard development on I-240.
Now it will be up to a jury to decide whether Edmund Ford took a bribe or a loan.