Rumors swirl amid corruption investigations - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rumors swirl amid corruption investigations

While Memphis and Shelby County swirl with investigations into political corruption, rumors may be getting in the way of the truth.

Thursday night, one Memphis news organization reported the FBI was investigating five city council members at City Hall and claimed that agents had been searching hard drives, going through emails, and pulling documents.

We now know that it's not only not true, but local leaders worry it's making it difficult to do the people's business.

When federal prosecutors filed charges against political heavyweights in the Tennessee Waltz scandal, lips started flapping.

Who would be next? When would the "other shoe" drop?

It has been a season of cynicism.

And political analyst Mike Nelson tells Action News 5 it's a breeding ground for rumors.

"In that climate of cynicism, almost any rumor is instantly believed because people are expecting the worst and when they hear something bad, they figure that must be true, whether it's true or not," he said.

Thursday night, it was not true. A media organization, citing an anonymous source, reported in breaking news that the FBI was investigating five Memphis city council members, saying they'd been going through computers and documents at City Hall.

That report, it turns out, was not true.

"This is what you would expect from the National Enquirer," said City Council Attorney Allan Wade.

Wade said he looked into the allegations. He said the FBI has not been to Council offices. He said the Feds have not requested access to computers or documents.

"Channel 3 failed miserably on all of these things, and I'm writing them a letter, asking them to do the right thing, to be on our side and to correct the error," Wade said.

Mike Nelson says it makes it hard for elected officials to do their jobs.

"If I were an elected official, no matter how honest I was, I would be living in constant fear that somebody's going to spread a rumor about me and that lots of neighbors and friends are going to believe it, not because it's true but because people assume the worst about politicians," said Nelson.

Nelson says it also makes would-be politicians think twice about public office.

Since the Tennessee Waltz indictments were handed up, there have been other questions raised about the integrity of the elected officials here. But to date, no one else has been charged with a crime.

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Friday afternoon, WREG issued the following statement:

"Upon subsequent interviews with our source, they have stood by the information that they gave us and that we reported. News Channel 3 is continuing to work on this story and will report developments as they unfold."

-Michele Gors, News Director, WREG

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