Monday, January 30, 2006

shelby county DA should recuse himself from Ford investigation

Over the weekend, the Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported that Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons had made a political contribution to Republican Terry Roland, State Senator Ophelia Ford's opponent. While it is not unusual for a public official to make political contributions to candidates, what raises eyebrows in this instance is that Gibbons has been using his position as DA to influence the state General Assembly as it attempts to resolve the Ford-Roland election dispute, and Gibbons is also in line to prosecute the case if a TBI investigation reveals criminal activity in the disputed election.
I have known Gibbons for many years, going back to his days as then-Gov. Lamar Alexander's special assistant for local government and ubran affairs. Gibbons has always seemed to me to be a decent, level headed fellow - albeit a partisan Republican - but his apparent oversight in failing to disclose on the front end his political involvement in Roland's campaign and the election he is now attempting to influence and investigate is cause for pause.
Back in December of 2005, Gibbons wrote the state Senate committee looking into the election urging it to proceed without benefit of the results of a TBI investigation.
The best resolution in my book at this stage is for Gibbons to recuse himself from this particular case and pledge in the future to be more forthright in his political ties as they relate to cases he is using his DA position to investigate.