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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Appearances, plural, of impropriety

In my opinion, this is the risk Nashville runs if it elects a career politician, such as Bob Clement, as mayor this fall. Nashville has been fortunate since Bill Boner left office in 1991 to have chief executives in office who, regardless of one's opinions on their initiatives and decisions, have generally gone out of their way to avoid controversy and the appearance of impropriety.

To be fair, Clement is probably known more for being bland than for being scandal-ridden, but hints of impropriety and corruption even prior to taking office are not encouraging signs. Let me say in alluding to Boner that Clement isn't likely to embarrass us on national television by playing harmonica with his mistress, but I still think his election would be a step backward, not forward for the city.

This also is not the kind of availability and responsiveness that, in my opinion, we need out of a future mayor: "Clement did not return calls for comment Tuesday."

Larry Woods, Clement's campaign manager, did respond when contacted by the City Paper: "There’s absolutely no involvement of those PACs on any level in the Clement campaign. They have not given us a dime and are not going to give us a dime."

In today's story, The City Paper also cited Woods' and Clement's explanations last July regarding a related incident:

“But Bob’s got the highest ethical standards of any public official I’ve ever worked with and rather than have questions about it, he wants to meet those high ethical standards,” Woods added. “And so that’s what the campaign’s doing.”

In a statement last summer, Clement said he believed the donations were legitimate.

“While I have been assured and advised that these committee donations are appropriate and proper, I think it is important for those of us who are privileged to seek and to hold public office to avoid even the appearance of anything that is less than the highest moral, ethical and legal standards,” Clement said.
This is one "appearance" that has not been avoided. Maybe this is all much ado about nothing, but I'm not hearing anything here that makes me think that Clement is the best candidate out of a crowded field to be our next mayor. Better and more informed takes on this issue are available here, here and here. Thanks to Kleinheider for raising awareness of this development.

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