MEMPHIS, TN— An ethics battle is raging between Shelby County Commissioners. Terry Roland is filing an appeal, after the ethics commission ruled Commissioner Brent Taylor did nothing wrong. Roland says Taylor should have disclosed he was a member of the board of former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's charter school group when he applied for county commissioner. Taylor's attorney says if Roland persists he will sue.
Roland told abc24 news he doesn't care if he's sued. He says he won't stop until he gets answers and he's not the only one "investigating" Taylor's connection to Herrenton's charter school group.
“There are several organizations higher than me that are involved in this so I don't think he can sue all of them,” said Roland.
Taylor was not able to speak with abc24 news on camera on Saturday but his attorney, Allan Wade, gave us a statement: "Commissioner Roland's complaint was without any factual foundation, which pretermits any consideration of a possible violation of the Ethics Ordinance.”
It goes on by saying, “In light of the very well reasoned opinion of the Ethics Officer and the additional facts and legal analysis in this opinion, it would appear that Commissioner Roland’s continued pursuit of this matter would by any objective standard be frivolous and would subject him to a fine not exceeding $50.00 and a suit for civil penalties to recover the cots of the hearing.”
This is what Roland had to say about Taylor’s legal action, “I was put in here by the people. I work for the people of Shelby County. Are they trying to tell me that they're going to sue me for doing my work as a county commissioner? Now doesn’t that look funny?"
This feud concerning possible ethics violations by Taylor has been going on for a week and Roland doesn't have plans to stop anytime soon.
"They're trying to make it out that I’m crazy now because we found that there's some connection there. I’m not going to quit until we get the right answers,” said Roland.
Here is why Roland is upset: He believes former Herenton's charter school group is affiliated with a controversial organization from Turkey. Herenton denies the allegations. Roland made that connection because the former mayor listed Harmony Schools as a consultant when applying for a license. Harmony Schools operates one charter school in Memphis with dozens more across the country.
So what does all of this have to do with Taylor? He's on Herenton's charter school board. Taylor did not disclose that when he applied for county commissioner because he said he didn't have to.
“When the county commission became available and I filled out the application there was a question about listing boards and organizations that you belong to. I did not list Dr. Herenton's charter school because it was not in existence. His application had not been approved. Matter of fact it was denied twice,” Taylor told abc24 news on Tuesday.
Roland asked the ethics commission to investigate. It ruled Taylor did nothing wrong.
“Their opinion is crap. Think about it. What he did was wrong but because he didn't do it under oath then there's no violation,” stated Roland.
Roland says this is not a personal attack on Brent Taylor.
"I have nothing against Commissioner Taylor at all. I want to make that very clear. I don't have anything personal against him,” Roland said.
Taylor believes otherwise.
"Quite honestly I think he's envious of my career. I have 13 years of experience in legislative office. He'll never achieve that because of term limits,” Taylor said. “I like Terry, he's a nice guy but I really do think it's personal.”
Roland says he will still pursue the appeal and urge the Tennessee Department of Treasury to investigate.