From out of Tennessee comes an FBI sting that could have major national political implications down the line. The FBI conducted a two-year undercover operation dubbed Operation “Tennessee Waltz,” that lead to the indictment of four Tennessee lawmakers, a former lawmaker and two other indictments Thursday.
Those charged included the senator, John Ford; fellow Sens. Kathryn Bowers and Ward Crutchfield; state Rep. Chris Newton; and former state Sen. Roscoe Dixon. Newton is a Republican and the others are Democrats.
Federal authorities said during a news conference Thursday that the charges were extortion and accepting bribes following a two-year undercover operation dubbed “Tennessee Waltz.” The grand jury returned the indictments in Memphis.
Ford has been under investigation for his consulting deals with companies doing business with the state.
WBIR.com reports the following were charged:
The lawmakers are Sen. Ward Crutchfield, D-Chattanooga, Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis, Sen. Kathryn Bowers, D-Memphis, and Rep. Chris Newton, R-Cleveland. The former legislator is Democrat Roscoe Dixon on Memphis, who stepped down in January.
Bill Hobbs has a great round of posts and minute by minute updates to the sting in The Volunteer State.
[Ford said] if he caught someone trying to set him up he would shoot that person, kill them, so that there would be no witnesses.
[Ford] asked if [and undercover agent] and his “partner” were okay, because while he did not mind shooting the partner, he did not want to shoot [the undercover agent].
The Tennessean reports:
In addition to Crutchfield and Bowers, the lawmakers arrested today are Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis and Rep. Chris Newton, R-Cleveland. The former lawmaker is Sen. Roscoe Dixon, a Memphis Democrat who stepped down in January.
Ford is accused of taking $55,000. The others are accused of taking lesser amounts.
“Government is not for sale,” said U.S. Attorney Terrell Harris.
The busts were the dramatic culmination of a legislative session dominated by discussion of ethics.
Michelle Malkin and Wizbang have some very good updates on events.
Great job by other local TN Blogs
GOP in the City
Nashville City Paper
Pith in the Wind
And always … Thursday Night Fever
Update I: Video of Press Conference via WBIR-TV
Update II: Timing is Everything
Democratic Representative, TN, Harold Ford Jr. filed the federal paperwork Wednesday to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to go,” Ford said in telephone interview from Washington. He said his top issues will be energy reform, national security and education.
What a difference a day makes. After this little diddy by John Ford, a name change may need to be involved here.
UPDATE III:Photo’s of the TN perps.