Congressman responds to mayor's request to investigate scandal

Gwendolyn Smith (Nashville mug shot 06/15/07
Gwendolyn Smith (Nashville mug shot 06/15/07
Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton
Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton

Mayor Willie Herenton went straight to the top with claims that a group of powerful Memphians will do whatever it takes to put him out of office.

Herenton is asking the United States Justice Department to investigate the scandal.

Now, a Congressman from Tennessee responds to the mayor's request.

Mayor Willie Herenton wants an alleged plot to ruin his name investigated at the highest level of the justice department.

"I have filed a complaint in Washinton D.C. with the Honorable Alberto R. Gonzalez" said Herenton at a press conference on Thursday.

Herenton sent the same complaint to other members of congress including Congressman Steve Cohen.

"We talked and he is of course concerned as any public official would be about these attempts to sully his name," said Herenton.

But Cohen isn't in a position to ask Alberto Gonzales for any favors since he recently called for the attorney general's resignation.

"You know, I think General Gonzales has other things he needs to be dealing with like getting a moving van and going home," said Cohen.

Despite that, Cohen says he will consult with his Washington colleagues to see what can be done about the Mayor's claims.

Cohen added, "it is soap opera-esque but nevertheless if this type of activity did occur I think its worthy of discussion and if it didn't occur its worthy of discussion."

Cohen thinks Gonzales will recommend that the case be handled by the local United States Attorney.

He feels confident a proper investigation of the mayor's claims could be conducted at the local level.

Meanwhile, the former cocktail waitress at the center of the sex and the city scandal involving  Mayor Herenton is behind bars in Nashville.

Gwendolyn Smith turned herself in to Metro Police Friday afternoon on a probation violation.

Smith has been a wanted woman since November and only re-surfaced when she came forward with claims local businessmen offered her money to seduce the mayor -- and get it on tape.

Mayor Herenton calls the scandal sabotage and he points his finger at several people when it comes to this alleged sex plot. That includes not only local political leaders, but, "a select representation of the judicial department establishment," Herenton said during Thursday's news conference.

The mayor spells it out in a letter sent to the U-S Attorney General. He states the most troubling aspect of this matter is the alleged involvement of the local offices of the FBI.

But in a statement, Special Agent in Charge My Harrison says quote "I have reviewed Mayor Herenton's letter to Attorney General Gonzales." "And I can state that the allegations of improper conduct by Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel are false."


to email Anna Marie Hartman.