M. LaTroy Williams, the sometime politician who seems to be shifting his focus from perennial — and unsuccessful — runs for office to behind-the-scenes string-pulling, may have taken election-year chutzpah to new levels.
Williams, who most recently lost the Democratic primary for Trustee to Derrick Bennett, has spent much of the last few months recruiting candidates for the “ballot” he has put out in advance of the August 7 election.
Like several other local entrepreneurs, Williams, in effect, offered candidates space on a sample ballot to pass out to voters— so long as the included candidates were willing to pay for the privilege.
Like the other sample ballots of this sort, Williams’ contains the word “Democratic” in its title, though it has no relationship, formal or informal, to the Shelby County Democratic Party, the Tennessee Democratic Party, or the National Democratic Committee, In 2010, the Shelby County Democratic Party was forced to seek a legal injunction against Williams for sponsoring such a ballot.
Williams has taken the Art of the Faux to new heights, however. As the proprietor of something called “The National Democratic Party U.S.A.”(again, no relation whatsoever to the Democratic National Committee) Williams concocted a TV commercial that began running last week announcing en endorsement of lawyer Ricky Wilkins in the Democratic primary for Congress in the 9th District.
Fine, so long as anyone seeing the commercial realizes that the “National Democratic Party U.S.A.” is basically M. LaTroy Williams.
Over the weekend, the masquerade took on another dimension, however, as the “National Democratic Party U.S.A.” took his — er, its — campaign to the streets with sizeable signs endorsing both President Obama and Wilkins but laid out in such a way as to suggest that it is President Obama who is endorsing
Wilkins – the same President Obama who has certifiably endorsed incumbent congressman Steve Cohen.
Cohen has called a press conference for 10:30 Monday morning to review the matter.
The congressman’s office has issued a press release regarding “deceptive campaigning” by Williams that “benefits” candidate Wilkins (though the release does not attribute Williams’ actions to Cohen’s opponent, whose name is misspelled on the faux "National Democratic Party" banners).
As the release goes on to say:
The deceptive campaign tactics include:
•A television spot that has aired on at least one station that falsely implies that it is an endorsement of Ricky Wilkins by the Democratic National Committee
•Signs placed in various locations around town that falsely imply the endorsement of Ricky Wilkins by the Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama
•A ballot that candidates, including Ricky Wilkins, pay to have their name on that Williams’ poll workers pretend is an official Democratic Party endorsement list
Congressman Cohen will discuss the ongoing effort to combat the deceptive practices carried out on behalf of the Ricky Wilkins campaign.