POLITICS: Flinn Camp Denounces 'Smear'



FLINN CAMP DENOUNCES 'SMEAR' The camp of Republican mayoral nominee George Flinn is considering a detailed response to a published report Sunday about a pair of sealed legal settlements between Flinn and two women.,

That was the word Sunday from Flinn legal adviser Gail Mathes,who meanwhile wasted no time in denouncing the rival camp of Democrat A C Wharton as the source of what she termed a “smear” campaign.

“I have it from absolutely reliable sources that representatives of the Wharton campaign were the ones who worked hard to plant the story. Not only that, they went into the courthouse and did research themselves,” said Mathes, who insisted that suits against Flinn by Mary E. Feldmann, a Minnesota woman, and former local broadcaster Mary Norman, settled in 1996 and April of this year, respectively, were essentially “business-related” and were “about money.”

Citing in particular the Norman suit, which was filed at the time Flinn's son Shea was running for the state legislature two years ago, Mathes said that Flinn had engaged in "absolutely no misconduct." The suit, which was preceded by an earlier suit against Norman by Flinn, was settled this year in the course of Flinn’s successful primary campaign against State Rep. Larry Scroggs.

Asked if the suit-and-countersuit, both of which are under seal, concerned a breach-of-promise issue involving possible nuptial arrangements of Flinn and Norman, Mathes said, “I cannot deny that, “ but would not comment further. (Flinn wed his current wife Alexandra this spring, not long before the primary.)

“It is no secret that doctors are a frequent target for lawsuits, which are often frivolous. It is also no secret that a wealthy man like Dr. Flinn, who is also a public figure, is especially vulnerable,” said Mathes, who said that political motives had injected an inappropriate aura of mystery into the matter of the suits.

A Conspiracy Against Both Candidates?

A poll of the mayoral race by Steve Ethridge, reported in The Commercial Appeal Sunday, didn’t win the endorsement of either major-party candidate.

Understandably, Flinn expressed skepticism about the results, which showed him trailing Wharton by 46 to 27 percent, with the rest of those polled undecided or split between three minor independent candidates. “We have information that shows we’re neck and neck,” Flinn said of the race between himself and Wharton.

More surprisingly, Wharton himself went out of his way to debunk the poll results when he appeared at a Get-Out-the-Vote rally for the Democratic ticket at the Overton Park Shell Sunday. “Don’t believe it,” he advised a perspiring audience of party activists concerning the poll. “That’s just sucker bait to try to keep you at home.”

Vintage Years

Among those addressing the Shell rally were Democratic U.S.Senate candidate Bob Clement, currently the congressman from Nashville, and former Vice President Al Gore, who stirred up considerable excitement when he showed up, though somewhat later than originally billed, for his second local appearance in two weeks. .

Gore attacked the current Republican administrations at both the state and national levels, and said of the economy under President Bush: “It’s like 1929 -- or getting close to it.”

Later, at a fundraiser for him at the midtown home of Dean and Lisa White, Clement observed of the current campaign year, “It’s going to be the reverse of 1994 for the Republicans.” That was the year, of course, of a GOP sweep, locally, statewide, and nationally.

You Had to Be There

What if you had a press conference and nobody came? That fate befell Ralph White, Democratic candidate for Criminal Court clerk, who called a press conference for Saturday morning at the headquarters of the Shelby County Election Commission.

Subject of the press conference, he had said in a prior announcement was a poster depicting his opponent, incumbent Republican Criminal Court clerk Bill Key,.as a Klansman and a racist.

Insisting that his purpose was to dissociate himself and his campaign from the poster, which had appeared mysteriously, and not to propagate the charges, White was frustrated by the lack of an audience. No members of the media answered the summons.

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