Local political radio ad causes controversy

The radio ads were crystal clear.

The ad states, "If you vote for cleo kirk or walter bailey, your vote won't count. You have thrown away your right."

The state supreme court ruling at the end of March upheld term limits and meant Walter Bailey and Cleo Kirk could not serve if they did win.

Both Kirk and Bailey campaigned anyway. The radio ads aimed to keep them from winning.

But the ten thousand dollar radio campaign wasn't paid for by Republicans. It wasn't paid for by their primary opponents either.

The ad continues, "Paid for by the Shelby County Voter Education Committee."

It was paid for by a group that has no obligation to disclose the identities of its members.

But WE now know who was pulling the strings.

Civil rights lawyer Richard Fields asks, "Who organized the effort? I did."

Richard Fields. Well-known civil rights lawyer. And longtime Democratic party leader.

Fields, a member of the Shelby County Voter Education committee continues, "There wasn't the will of a lot of people to try to get things straight and we thought we'd just try and educate folks."

In Tuesday's primary, Bailey lost to political newcomer J.W. Gibson.

Cleo Kirk was clobbered at the polls by Sidney Chism.

And many in the political community credit the ad campaign with making a difference.

Fields continues, "The Democratic party has to stand for something. And one of the first things it has to stand for is fairness in voting. And there are people within the party who just don't believe in that. We don't want to be known as the party of dead voters, the party of people voting from outside the district or the party of people who have candidates who can't serve."