VOL. 129 | NO. 131 | Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Joe Brown Renews Weirich Allegations
By Bill Dries
After a week in which his campaign for Shelby County district attorney general took heavy criticism from numerous political fronts, including his own party, Joe Brown said he has no regrets about alleging Republican incumbent District Attorney General Amy Weirich is gay.
And Brown repeated it at a small political gathering Saturday, July 5, in Boxtown.
Weirich has described Brown as “out of touch with reality.”
Brown also alleged Saturday that Weirich made the same allegation about Democratic nominee Carol Chumney during the 2012 election. Weirich did not question Chumney’s sexual orientation at any point during the 2012 campaign.
But Brown told the crowd at a pavilion on Boxtown Road that it was common knowledge and if they didn’t know, they weren’t as well-informed as they should be.
“Do you remember what she was calling Carol Chumney?” Brown asked the crowd, consisting mostly of other candidates and their campaign workers. “What was it she was accusing her of being? Too many of us got too much gray hair. What did she accuse Carol Chumney of being? If you didn’t pay attention, go back and ask someone.”
Chumney, who opted not to run for district attorney general this year, began the current election year by telling several Democratic gatherings that her bid for the position in 2012 was hampered by a lack of support from fellow Democrats, including Democratic elected officials. The unusual intraparty criticism of the party’s establishment included no mention of the conduct of Weirich’s campaign.
“I don’t care whether you are gay or not. That’s your business,” Brown said. “You’ve got a right to be gay. I embrace it – well not too damn close. … I don’t care what you do to get yourself off.”
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Equality Project and its political action committee, a statewide organization politically involved in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, continued over the weekend to support other candidates in the August county general election, including Democratic County Commission nominee Reginald Milton, who attended a fundraiser by the political action committee at the Midtown home of Jonathan Cole, the chair and president of the organization.
“We anticipate we will probably have some policy pursuits with the commission in the next term (of the commission),” Cole said. “It’s great to have allies that are willing to go on the record in support of equality. One of the things TEP has been very successful at is drawing a mainstream crowd.”
The project’s political action committee endorsed Milton in the Democratic primary earlier this year. Milton faces Republican Geoff Diaz in the general election.
Milton welcomed the endorsement in what has been a hard-fought general election campaign.
“The fights are all the same. It’s the fight for rights. It’s a fight to be heard. It’s a fight to not let others dictate who you are and what you should be,” he told Cole and those gathered in his home Sunday. “Unfortunately we are fighting for many, many years to come. We are on the right side.”
Brown’s earlier remarks about Weirich drew direct criticism from local gay rights groups and indirect criticism from Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Bryan Carson.
Brown was unrepentant Saturday.
“I’m the Django that rolled up to the plantation house,” Brown said in reference to the Quentin Tarantino movie “Django Unchained.” “We have nominal Democrats that are house boys, that have no cojones. They are gutless. But I’m not.”
Then Brown specifically addressed the comments he made last month in a video his own campaign posted on YouTube last week and took down just hours later.
“I’ve never lied,” Brown said of his statements questioning Weirich’s sexual orientation.
Before Brown spoke, Democratic nominee for sheriff Bennie Cobb made a point of embracing both Brown and Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, who is the Democratic nominee for Juvenile Court clerk. Brooks is facing an attempt by some commissioners to declare her seat on the body vacant, claiming she no longer lives in the district she represents.
“You never leave a man behind,” Cobb said in an appeal for voters to vote the entire Democratic ticket in the Aug. 7 county general elections.
“I’ve heard people backing up from them,” he said as he called up Brown and Brooks. “Stand behind these Democrats.”
Brooks did not comment on the residency controversy in her earlier comments. She linked the job of the Juvenile Court clerk to reforms of the court itself, which is operating under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department on due process issues as well as disproportionately harsher punishments and transfers for trial as adults of black youths.
“It’s still not working,” Brooks said of the reforms. “They are still doing the same thing.”
Incumbent Republican Clerk Joy Touliatos has said the problems noted by the Justice Department and in the settlement plan are separate from the role of the clerk’s office.