SHELBY CO., Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — Shelby County’s Democratic Party normally has its meetings here at the IBEW hall, but the IBEW has sort of resembled the WWE with Democrats, as there has been a lot of verbal wrestling here.
All of this because only one person wanted to be chairman of the local group. Michael Harris is his name, and one candidate will just about always win an election. But there are several who say he doesn’t deserve the job because, as a lawyer, Michael Harris has had his share of problems.
Julie Byrd Ashworth is one of three who have filed action against Harris with the Tennessee State Democratic Party. “He filed eight personal bankruptcies in a year,” said Ashworth, who has copies of all these records.
“According to everybody I talk to,” Ashworth said, “that’s a record, and the eighth time the judge barred him from filing another bankruptcy for five years.”
Harris has had State Court troubles. After allegations of misconduct, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered he not be allowed to practice law until next year. He was not criminally charged with anything.
But longtime Memphis Democrat Tajuan Stout Mitchell appearing on Local 24 This Week with Richard Ransom says he needs trust.
“You need to be trustworthy,” Mitchell said, “if you’re going to raise funds.”
Money is a big deal with this local party. Several years ago there were allegations of embezzlement inside the party which resulted in state democrats decertifying the local group.
Political consultant Susan Adler Thorp, who was also on Local 24 This Week, looked at the local history.
“The majority of their leaders have been weak,” according to Thorp,”some have gotten in a lot of trouble. Michael Harris does not look like he’s going to be one of those strong leaders.”
Michael Harris, by the way, ignored our interview request.