New, mysterious PAC jumps in election with push against Public Safety Referendum

New, mysterious PAC jumps in election with push against Public Safety Referendum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new, mysterious PAC is entering the Memphis election at the 11th hour. It’s called the Coalition for Safer Neighborhoods.

The PAC doesn’t have any social media pages but it has ads running on television and mailers across the city. The coalition dropped a TV ad less than a week before election

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“That’s why you should vote against a sales tax because you shouldn’t have to pay it,” said the voice in the Coalition for Safer Neighborhoods ad.

The ad encourages people to vote against the Public Safety Referendum on ballot which would raise the sales tax by half-a-percent to support police and fire benefits. The new PAC formed two weeks ago without a track record or even a website.

“Regardless of where you stand on the referendum whether you’re a for or against, the idea that anybody would be entering this late in the game with this big of an ad buy, and we don’t know anything about this has to be a concern,” said Steven Mulroy, law professor at the University of Memphis.

The only thing FOX13 could find about the PAC was one form appointing a treasurer. FOX13’s Kirstin Garriss went to the address listed on the form but no one with the PAC was there. Eventually, we got a hold of one of the coalition’s members on the phone. FOX13 asked why the coalition rushed to form and get an ad on TV.

“The citizens who contributed the PAC wanted to make sure that voters had all the information available before they made up their mind,” said Gene Bryan with the Coalition for Safer Neighborhoods.

Bryan said they also sent out mailers to all “likely voters.” FOX13 asked him how much they spent, but he couldn’t tell us.

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Recently, Shelby County Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr. and Memphis City Council Chairman Kemp Conrad came out against the referendum. FOX13 asked if any elected officials were a part of the PAC, and Bryan said it wasn’t at “liberty” to say who contributed to the PAC.

Memphis Fire Fighters Association President Thomas Malone said they’ve seen the ad and they’re not concerned about it, because this PAC is so new, its financial disclosure with information about who contributed to the coalition or how much the PAC spent won’t be available until after the election.