Local I-Team: Feud continues between neighbor and former Memphis and Shelby County Mayor

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – There’s new information on the feud between former Memphis and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton and his neighbor.

Emails show Wharton worked behind the scenes with Memphis city councilman Kemp Conrad to get a long list of city and county employees out to his neighbor’s house looking for problems. Kareema McCloud says the emails prove Wharton used city resources to harass her.

According to McCloud, former Mayor A C Wharton is upset she runs an Airbnb out of her home. She says emails prove the city and county clearly targeted her.

“Want to crack down hard.”

“We need to shut it down or close loophole.”

“Robert-can you get on this ASAP.”

Those are all from emails sent by City Councilman Kemp Conrad obtained by the Local I-Team The emails show Conrad sent messages to a variety of departments about McCloud’s house.

McCloud has read the emails that she received after filing an open records request.

“They definitely show I was guilty before I was given an opportunity to discuss or look over anything or fix anything,” said McCloud.

McCloud’s Ring camera shows Wharton went to the home last month. McCloud says Wharton was upset she rents out the home on AirBnB. According to McCloud, Wharton said he was going to make some calls.

A few days later, a parade of city and county officials showed up at her door; from code enforcement to the health department, the fire inspector, and police, who admitted they did surveillance on her home for several days. Nine visits by at least six departments in three weeks.

In one email exchange, Public Works Director Robert Knecht sends an employee an email saying, “get an inspector out to the house to cite them.” It goes on to say Wharton indicated the trash cans were overflowing.  Knecht questions if they need to get the health department involved and then ends by saying send a follow up email when citations have been issued.

Remember at this point no one had been to the house.

“That to me is exactly what corruption is. I mean, you’re not going to give me due process? You are going to jump over that entire step and cite me for something you haven’t seen on the strength of what someone else told you to do,” said McCloud.

Code Enforcement Manager Otis Tidwell not only came out to the house himself. Emails show he looped in other high-ranking employees. He asked individual departments to go out and do inspections.

“To me those emails say go cite whoever is at that house. It doesn’t matter whatever that is for make something up if you have to but you better give them a citation,” said McCloud.

Monday, the Local I-Team once again asked Wharton for a comment or an interview. So far, we haven’t heard anything.

A spokesperson for the city says Wharton did not get special treatment. Anyone can call about a problem.

“This is the scene? A picture of the scene in a purported AirBnB. This is not the intent of our AirBnB ordinance,” said Kemp Conrad, Memphis City Council. Conrad held up a picture from the party along with a flyer that had been circulated advertising it.  

When asked if the response would have been the same if it wasn’t Wharton calling him, Conrad responded, ” Yes, absolutely presented with the evidence we were presented with.”

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