MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis lawmaker, convicted in the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz Bribery Sting, looks to get back into politics.
John Ford announced he is filing a petition for his former seat, Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk.
Ford served in office in various capacities for decades.
The Fords have been called the most powerful African American family in Tennessee.
He's a convicted felon and there was a state statute passed right after the Tennessee Waltz Sting that said convicted felons can't run for office.
"I think there's a real issue here as to whether he can qualify as a candidate,” said Steve Mulroy, University of Memphis Law Professor.
He spoke with Good Morning Memphis live this morning.
He cited a 2010 Tennessee Code, that “disqualifies those convicted of infamous crimes from holding public office in Tennessee.”
The law, he said, was a direct reaction to Operation Tennessee Waltz—the sting that roped then-State Senator John Ford and six others on bribery charges.
"The statute is pretty crystal clear, and then also, there was a January 2017 Circuit Court order which restored most of his civil rights, but specifically said he didn't have the right to hold public office,” Mulroy said.
The Secretary of State's Office provided us with a copy of John Ford's petition to have his rights restored following his 52-month prison sentence.
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The document showed, in 2017, Ford was granted his citizenship and employability rights, but was banned from voting and holding public office in Tennessee.
"John Ford is a smart man,” he said. “You would think he has some plan here. There's some loop hole we haven't thought of."
Linda Phillips, Shelby County Director of Elections explained there is one avenue available to Ford.
"If Mr. Ford brings us a certified order restoring his right to run for public office on or before the qualifying deadline, which is noon on December 12, he can be placed on the ballot,” Phillips said. “If we do not have that document, he will not be."
That certified order would have to come from a judge.
We just got new information from the Secretary of State's Office.
They told us the order forever banning Ford from office means he won't be able to get a judicial order from a judge in the court of competent jurisdiction to get his rights back.
Ford wouldn't interview with us today, but his spokesperson said:
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