Monday, January 30, 2006

District Attorney General Bill Gibbons Donated Money To Terry Roland; Should Recuse Himself From Investigation

Sunday's Memphis Commercial had an eye opening article that revealed that Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons has a serious conflict of interest in heading up the investigation into dead voters from the September special Senate election that was won by Ophelia Ford.

The Commercial Appeal reported, "Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons says he had no partisan motive when he urged a state Senate committee not to wait on the TBI before making its recommendation on a disputed Memphis election.

But a Dec. 28 letter from Gibbons to the committee investigating the election's irregularities has raised eyebrows:

Gibbons, a Republican, contributed $100 to Republican senatorial candidate Terry Roland's campaign against Democrat Ophelia Ford in the Sept. 15 special election. Now Gibbons may prosecute if criminal activity is found.

The timing of the committee's still-delayed report to the full Senate has become both a political issue and a legal issue in Ford's federal court case.

Roland's formal contest of the election, which Ford won by 13 votes, prompted the Senate committee's investigation. The bipartisan committee is to make a recommendation to the full Senate on whether to void the election and remove Ford from the Senate.

But earlier this month, 16 Republicans and one Democrat -- exactly the 17 votes required for passage -- voted to void the election based on irregularities and illegal voting. Republican plans for a final, binding vote were blocked, at least temporarily, by a federal judge.

In the Senate, Democrats have blasted Republicans for moving to void the election before the committee completes its work.

Gibbons earlier had asked the TBI to investigate allegations of crimes in the election, including two votes cast in the names of dead people.

The DA said Friday he wrote to the Senate committee because, "Based on public comments by some senators, it appeared they expected the TBI investigation would be concluded soon and that they thought they would have access to that information."

Gibbons said he discussed the situation with TBI Director Mark Gwyn "and we felt it important to let the committee know that, first, the TBI investigation was going to take a while and second, the investigative file was confidential and the committee should not be in a position of making its recommendation on that."

In his letter, Gibbons urged the committee to "proceed with making its recommendation based upon information already available to it from the Shelby County Election Commission, the state coordinator of elections, and other available sources."

Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said Friday that while "the letter wasn't inappropriate, I think people believe today that he should have disclosed his political connection to Mr. Roland."

Bill Gibbons' deceitfulness in this case is obvious.

He willing concealed the fact that he was a supporter and contributor to Terry Roland, Opheila Ford's opponent, while leading the investigation into dead voters from the September election.

Therefore, he should recuse himself immediately from the investigation that he now heads.

It is time for the shenanigans from Republicans to cease.

The recusal of Bill Gibbons should serve as a first step.