Ford Vows To Survive Indictment
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., vowed to cheering supporters Saturday that he would weather a federal indictment charging him with taking loans from a crooked banker in exchange for political favors.
″Only God will stop me from representing you,″ Ford told 75 supporters crowded into a meeting room at the Memphis International Airport.
Tennessee’s only black congressman was indicted Friday in Knoxville on charges of accepting illegal loans from C.H. Butcher Jr., a fallen member of a once-powerful banking family.
Ford said the charges were filed because of a personal dispute he had in 1982 with Assistant U.S. Attorney General Dan Clancy, one of the prosecutors handling the grand jury investigation.
″Dan Clancy wants to destroy the black political power in Tennessee,″ Ford said, causing his supporters to break into the chant: ″We aren’t going to let him.″
″I’m not going to let him,″ Ford said to the crowd’s delight.
Ford declined to say what spurred his dispute with Clancy, but Myron Lowry, a public relations spokesman accompanying the congressman, said it involved the federal prison sentence Ford’s brother Emmitt received on an insurance fraud conviction.
″I’m an assistant U.S. attorney,″ Clancy said Friday after Ford made the same accusation in an interview. ″I don’t run the Justice Department. I have nothing personal against Harold Ford.″
Ford, who was first elected to Congress 13 years ago, said Clancy conducted a four-year investigation into his personal affairs in Memphis and then ″shopped for an indictment in the all-white town of Knoxville.″
He said he would surrender to the federal marshal in Memphis, but he said he did not know when.
His 9th District, which includes most of the city of Memphis, is 45 percent black, and he is credited with running a political machine that can get the black vote out on election day.
He is charged in the 19-count indictment with accepting loans from lending institutions controlled by Butcher and his brother Jake in exchange for delivering the black vote in Memphis. Jake Butcher was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
The Butchers have pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with other indictments.
The newest indictment says Ford got the money from loans to a company called Tenn-Ford Inc. and used it to ″live an extravagant and lavish lifestyle.″
″Dan Clancy is more interested in my lifestyle than he is in the truth,″ Ford said.
Ford denied the allegation that Tenn-Ford was a sham company, saying ″there is no wrongdoing whatsoever with Tenn-Ford.″
And he said he looked forward to his day in court.
″Sometimes water has to run muddy before it runs clear,″ he said. ″When it runs under the bridge of justice it will run clear.″