State Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini has, in the wake of the dispute between the TNDP and the Shelby County Democratic Party over the correct procedures for dealing with ousted former SCDP chairman Bryan Carson, officially decertified the local party.
Mancini took the action in a letter to current Shelby County Democratic Party chair Michael Pope.
In claiming the right to decertify the party, Macini cited "Article III Section 2(f) and Article VII Section 1(a)(3) of the Tennessee Democratic Party Bylaws," which, she said, give her the power "to develop and monitor a minimum set of requirements that must be observed by a state sanctioned certified County Democratic Party."
Although Mancini did not specify particular reasons for her action, she has been at a standoff with the local party's executive committee over the Carson issue. The SCDP executive committee has declined — by virtue of a 10-10 tie in voting on the matter — to ratify a payback agreement reached between Mancini's office and SCDP chairman Pope, allowing Carson to pay $6,000 to the party at the rate of $100 a month in order to satisfy the local party's claims of financial irregularities during Carson's chairmanship.
A strong component of the Shelby County committee's membership has pressed for sterner action against Carson, contending that he embezzled at least $25,000 in party funds that cannot be accounted for. And a majority of the committee voted last week to declare Carson non bona fides
as a Democrat, an action that Mancini claims the local party lacked sufficient grounds or legal underpinning for.
The Carson affair is but the most glaring example of discord between the local party and Mancini, who expressed displeasure that the SCDP has incurred substantial fines for late and insufficient financial disclosures to the state Election Registry, both during and after Carson's chairmanship.
Even beyond the financial issues, the SCDP executive-committee membership has been seriously divided on matters of organization and leadership, and some current and former members have openly invited an action like that which Mancini has now taken, as a prelude to starting the local party over again from the ground up.
One such was veteran blogger Steve Steffens of leftwingcracker.blogspot.com,
who in a post on Mancini's action said in part: "Today, TNDP Chair Mary Mancini did what we have been urging her to do, decertifying the Shelby County Democratic Party, sending it to a farm where it could run and play with other defunct institutions. It had ceased to function as a political organization a long time ago, unable to deal with the Bryan Carson situation...."
Alvin Crook, president of the Shelby County Young Democrats, responded to the surprise new development by noting that his own organization still maintained full legitimacy and pledging to work with state party officials in rebuilding efforts locally. Crook said the YDs would also be holding a press conference on Saturday, time and place to be announced.
Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, wasted no time in commenting on the new development in Democratic ranks, issuing the following statement:
"With allegations flying that $25,000 from donors has gone missing, the TNDP's answer is to simply sweep the issue under the rug. That's inexcusable. A proper and transparent investigation needs to be conducted immediately and, if necessary, charges should be filed. Shelby County deserves better but this whole episode is just another example of the Democratic Party's long tradition of corruption."
Below is Mancini's letter of today, addressed to SCDP chair Pope, conveying the news of her action and the reasons for it.
More information to come: