MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. is being investigated for allegations of an ethics violation, but an attorney is stepping forward this week to defend him.
A special prosecutor was appointed to look into allegations that Ford may have violated the county charter and ethics rules. District Attorney General Amy Weirich this week recused her office from the investigation.
The accusations stem from a $450,000 county grant that was approved for local nonprofit Memphis Junior Achievement. Ford’s business sold computers to the group resulting in a $45,000 profit, but Ford allegedly did not properly disclose his dealings with the nonprofit before the vote.
In a letter sent to a county prosecutor in January, an outside attorney hired by the county wrote, “it appears difficult to reach any conclusion other than that Commissioner Ford has failed to adhere to requirements of the County Ethics Code and, also more importantly, committed a violation of the County Charter with respect to his business dealings with Memphis Junior Achievement.”
The letter goes on to say Ford’s conduct was intentional, that he had been uncooperative with an investigation and recommends referral to the County Ethics Commission for a hearing “to pursue ouster proceedings.”
Attorney Allan Wade, however, is defending Ford. In a letter sent Tuesday to County Commission Chairman Eddie Jones, Wade said “there is no credible evidence of any ‘quid pro quo’ between Ford and Junior Achievement.” He said Ford did not vote on the grant to Junior Achievement.
Wade said in his opinion, Harris doesn’t want Ford to be the chairman of the budget committee.
WREG received the following message from the Mayor’s Office regarding the response:
“Mayor Harris has never had any conversations nor has he met with the special counsel hired to investigate an alleged quid pro quo against Commissioner Ford. Furthermore, Mayor Harris was not involved in any way in the decision to hire the special counsel. These are only allegations and everyone, including Mr. Ford, is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”