MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council member Berlin Boyd is under fire for not disclosing a potential conflict, and it’s not the first time.
In this case, he failed to put his employment by FedEx Logistics, a company he helped move to downtown Memphis, on a state ethics form.
Gov. Bill Lee announced last month that Fedex Logistics would establish its headquarters in Downtown Memphis, bringing nearly 700 jobs with it.
The Fortune 50 company is getting $34 million in public tax incentives to make the move happen.
At the time, Logistics CEO Richard Smith recognized Boyd for making the initial pitch.
“It was at a Grizzlies game,” Boyd recalled at the time. “We were there and I’m like, ‘Hey man. Look. What do you think?’”
By then, Boyd had already become an employee of FedEx Logistics; he now says he started working for the company last August. But he admits it was an “oversight” when he forgot to put that on state ethics forms filed in January.
Boyd corrected those documents and re-filed last week.
Dr. Earle Fisher with #UpTheVote901, a nonpartisan group he started to get Memphians more involved in voting in their own best interests, said his biggest concern is whether Boyd’s actions help the people.
“We want to see where the lines of personal benefits stop and public benefits start. And it’s hard to tell in this regard,” Fisher said. “We don’t know for sure whether he’s representing private interests or everyday people.”
Boyd says he has never broken the law.
He does have a record of hiding a conflict of interest in the past. In 2017, he did not recuse himself on a vote to give money to one of his clients, the Beale Street Merchants Association.
When WREG asked FedEx officials about the councilman’s involvement in their move, they sent us this statement:
“We can confirm that this deal was handled in the appropriate manner, and it is in the best interest of both the city of Memphis and FedEx Logistics. We are thrilled to be a part of the revitalization of downtown.”
WREG tried to do an interview with Boyd Monday but he instead texted the following statement:
“This is what the community has been asking for: high wage jobs. It’s a great win for Memphis. But I was not financially involved in the deal, and I never voted on it. The Council doesn’t vote on incentives. There simply is no conflict of interest here.”