Lowery reacts to city council's decision to not fire the city atto - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lowery reacts to city council's decision to not fire the City Attorney

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

Memphis, TN (WMC-TV) - Embattled Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson learned Tuesday he will keep his job. The city council decision comes after he promised to recover some of the taxpayer money he approved for then Mayor Willie Herenton's legal fees.

After meeting for hours with a member of Memphis City Council, City Attorney Elbert Jefferson sent a letter to former Mayor Willie Herenton.

"It was a simple meeting he asked me what I had already promised a Special Agent that I would do," Jefferson said. "But because I have been ill, I haven't had a chance to come back to the city to do it."

In the letter Jefferson tells Herenton he inadvertently authorized payment on certain items. Those certain items add up to more than $7,300 dollars. The audit does not detail what the expenses went towards.

"It was a re-review, I am going to continue to re-review those it was nothing abnormal, nothing abnormal," Jefferson said.

The FBI questioned Jefferson about a $55,000 dollar payment of city money to cover Herenton's legal defense in a federal investigation. The letter and unspecific audit performed in a couple of hours Tuesday were enough to convince Council Member Bill Morrison to withdraw his resolution to fire Jefferson.

"At this point you are pursuing to recoup the taxpayer's money, is that correct Mr. Jefferson," Morrison asked Jefferson.

"That is correct," Jefferson said.

Another vote on firing Jefferson failed. Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery says the council made a mistake by keeping Jefferson on the job.

"He said he was auditing the bills," Lowery said. "That should have been done before he signed off on them. He also says some of the money will be returned, the money should never have left in the first place."

Jefferson is not in the clear yet, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery can still submit another recommendation to fire him. Some council members voted against his recommendation today because it did not include the appointment of a new city attorney.  That violates the city charter and a court order.

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