Transcripts show French connection to city contracts

He left a top job in city government amid sexual harassment charges, and years later, is making millions in city computer contracts. Now, as Reginald French prepares a campaign for County Sheriff, some are questioning his connections.

Court transcripts obtained by Action News 5 suggest that Reginald French, a former city administrator and aide to Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, parlayed years of city experience and contacts into millions of dollars in city contracts.

"You try not to have people making decisions on contracts who are related to somebody or who have affiliations that might taint their judgment," said City Councilwoman Carol Chumney.

Chumney worries about a nine million dollar city deal to buy Oracle software that sent a two-million dollar commission to French.

Transcripts taken in a lawsuit last year, show that French left his city job as Director of Public Services in 1997 - amid sexual harassment complaints - to do consulting work with a company called ASW that had information technology - or IT - contracts with the city. He then joined that company and ultimately became its majority owner.

In these transcripts, French says he and his wife simultaneously started another IT company called Integrated Technology and set up shop in the same office space at 100 North Main.

"Was the City of Memphis a client of ASW?" a lawyer for a former French business partner asked. ASW was the first company French joined.

He answered, "yes, it was."

Question: "And now the City of Memphis is indirectly a client of IT?"
Answer: "correct."

Question: "What percentage of IT's business would you estimate is through the city of Memphis?"
Answer: "over half."

Question: "In the last year that you were with ASW, what percentage of business was with the City of Memphis?"

Answer: "Maybe more than half."

Question: "Was there any point in time where ASW and IT were operating at the same time?"

Answer: "Yeah, because they would have -- after, yes."

In 2003, IT - or Integrated Technologies - facilitated the nine million dollar deal at City Hall.

French is now running for County Sheriff. His spokeswoman, Deidre Malone, says the criticism is politically motivated.

"Reginald has not worked for city government for years. So there is nothing wrong with a private citizen who owns a business being a subcontractor for a major corporation."

The software that French helped the City buy is called Oracle. In the transcripts we've acquired, French is also asked about Herb McCall, former administrator for former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.

McCall was found guilty in 2003 of perjury and obstruction of justice and published reports show he was involved in trying to get Atlanta to buy Oracle software as well.

It was revealed in former Mayor Campbell's recent trial that Oracle paid him $10,000 to give a speech in 1998 and then two years later, the company landed a $5 million city contract.