Mayor's new Cadillac raises eyebrows

Mayor's new Cadillac raises eyebrows

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis mayor said he stays out of all matters involving the purchase of the car that he uses for official city business.

"That's one thing I do not need to look for, I have my own cars," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

Mayor AC Wharton had those words to say, in the wake of what council members call "Hot Rod Part Two."

"Every time you renew a lease, this is what happens," he said.

Controversy over take-home vehicles date back to the previous administration, from a luxury Cadillac Escalade, to a former director souping up his ride with candy red paint and a Hemi engine.

Now the mayor's new 2013 Cadillac GTS at $1,200 a month is raising eyebrows among some council members.

"I stay out of it because I don't want anybody to think that I'm out here hustling a car," said Wharton.

The mayor said he defers car purchases to his General Services Division.

He said they buy American and local.

"One thing, I almost got in trouble. I did say, when they told me, 'Mayor, your lease is up,' I said, 'Make sure you get the best deal we can even if you have to solicit bids outside the city' and someone said, 'We may get in trouble with the local dealers on that,'" said Wharton.

Non-emergency division directors who have take-home cars is always under review.

He said that's why administrators have six fewer take home cars since 2010 leaving 13 cars total.

"It may come down further.  We're reviewing every car. As the review shows, most of these are in law enforcement," said Wharton.

The mayor said if he had his choice, it would have been a hybrid.

"They weren't trying to suit my personal preference," said Wharton.

When asked why he didn't just keep his 2010 Caddy when the lease was up, the mayor said he told his staff to cut the best business deal possible and he trusts they did their best.

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