- Commissioner Walter Bailey
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, a Democrat, two weeks ago sought unsuccessfully to put the Commission on record as suggesting that Ryder, a Republican national committeeman and the GOP’s national redistricting supervisor, recuse himself from the current election case.
Trying again last week to get the Commission to address his concerns about issues regarding the August 5 election and challenges to it, Mulroy succeeded in getting an 8-0 committee vote approving a resolution that guaranteed protection to whistleblowers in county government and specifically mentioned those employees who might report election irregularities.
Even as watered down after group discussion, the resolution was something of a coup for Mulroy, who had in mind recent claims made by defeated Sheriff’s candidate Randy Wade and Shelby county Democratic chairman Van Turner, both of whom reported alleged disclosures from unidentified “John Doe” informants, With only seven votes necessary on the full commission and with eight seemingly committed already, the issue seemed resolved.
But Mulroy’s triumph proved short-lived. When the commission took up the issue at its regular bi-weekly public meeting on Monday, Republican commissioner Wyatt Bunker praised the resolution in principle as an umbrella over employees in county government but objected to any specific language as partisan “hype” meant to reinforce losing Democrats’ claims about the late election.
The issue of including such language hung in the balance through an extended back-and-forth discussion, with Mulroy maintaining that to denude the resolution of specific language relating to elections would send the wrong message, with another potentially controversial election coming up on November 2.
He got some backup from Republican Mike Carpenter, who commented that it would be a disservice to the commission members who struggled to reach agreement on compromise language last week to drop such language this week.,
But the disposition of the matter was unexpectedly turned in the opposite direction by Walter Bailey, a returning commission member whose identity during several earlier terms had been that of a staunchly partisan Democrat. Bailey argued that unanimity on the commission was important and if it required deleting uses of the word “election” to get everyone behind a whistleblowing resolution, then the word should go.
Though he would ultimately vote with Mulroy to keep the terminology, chairman Sidney Chism echoed Bailey’s sentiments, and Justin Ford, a new member who has yet to utter a word in commission debate, would follow Bailey’s lead and vote to excise specific election references. Those two Democratic defections would carry the day for Bunker’s motion to omit any mention of elections.