MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor A C Wharton spoke about the controversial $880,000 deal between the maker of MPD’s body cameras and his campaign manager.
The city required TASER International to hire a woman or minority PR company to educate the public about their new body cameras for MPD.
TASER chose Deidre Malone, who also runs Wharton’s re-election campaign.
“It’s my understanding that Taser and Ms Malone by mutual consent agreed to cancel that contract,” said Wharton.
TASER said it was “disappointed” Malone didn’t tell them about her connection, and they’re committed to ethical business practices.
The mayor said he didn’t see the deal but didn’t think there was anything legally or ethically wrong with it, and apparently neither did his inner circle.
Everyone from his campaign manager, chief administrators, lawyers, and police leaders were aware of the issue.
“Had I wished I’d known before there was communication so I could say don’t do that, but it didn’t happen, and I’ll move on,” said Wharton.
The city said the money wasn’t all profit but to pay for billboards and TV ad’s, but it’s unclear how much.
Wharton said someone else will get the job, and they’ll be a minority too.
The Carter Malone Group, LLC released the following statement to WREG:
The contract between The Carter Malone Group, LLC and Taser International has been cancelled effectively immediately by mutual agreement. I want to reiterate that nothing was done that can be considered unethical or improper. I stand by the fact that I obtained the contract based on my firm’s qualifications and body of work and not for any other reason.
I appreciate the support from the individuals and various organizations for me and my firm. It is truly unfortunate that a woman and minority-owned company, that has a track record like The Carter Malone Group, has to be subjected to the type of crit$880,000 icism and allegations that have been subjected upon my firm. The City has made some strides in increasing the percentage of women and minority-owned businesses doing business with the City. I believe under the continued leadership of Mayor A C Wharton that percentage will grow.
Just hours later, TASER released the following statement on the contract:
“TASER International and the Carter Malone Group have mutually agreed to terminate our agreement, effective immediately.
“TASER International is disappointed that The Carter Malone Group did not disclose to TASER prior to entering into this contract that Deidre Malone, its President and CEO, was the City of Memphis Mayor’s campaign manager. While The Carter Malone Group was selected based upon merit and its quality of work, TASER has a code of Business Conduct and Ethics which prohibits its contractors from having a business relationship that can even be perceived as an attempt to influence business decisions.
“TASER is fully committed to ethical business practices as well as the 10% goal for Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises and we will work with the City of Memphis to find a suitable new contractor.”