Eighth District: Tasco says Bass campaign worker made “threatening” call

A new development in an ongoing ballot dispute pits Eighth District City Council candidates Robin Tasco and Cindy Bass against each other over alleged threats by a former city worker guilty of corruption.

Robin Tasco said Tuesday she received a threatening ultimatum from convicted felon Steve Vaughn to get out of the race or face a damaging legal struggle.

Bass said she was unaware of any contact between Vaughn and Tasco. She defended the campaign work of Vaughn, the former chief of staff for incumbent Eighth District City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller and former board member of Germantown Settlement, who pleaded guilty to corruption in 2005.

She also said she would not tolerate threats of any kind, implied or explicit. “Anyone that was helping me would be gone yesterday who threatened or tried to intimidate,” she said.

The row came to light following the appeal, filed by attorney Robert Vance April 1, to a March court decision that threw out a challenge to candidate Robin Tasco’s nomination petitions on the grounds that a portion of that challenge was filed late.

Last month Vance represented several Eighth District voters who filed challenges to the validity of candidates’ nomination petitions. Two of those challenges resulted in the ejection of Fay Dawson and Jordan Dillard from the race. Three more challenges, against candidates Andrew Lofton, Bill Durham and Robin Tasco, were thrown out for late filing.

Some of the voters filing these challenges are volunteers for the campaign of Cindy Bass, including Brandon Vaughn, who is named in the challenges against Tasco.

Bass said she was unaware of the April 1 filing.

Robin Tasco made her claim on G-town Radio’s Morning Feed program Tuesday where she was a guest with her husband Will Tasco. She said the threatening call came before the initial petition challenges were made.

Steve Vaughn called Tasco on her cell phone to ask for a meeting March 6, and she and her husband met him at the Chili’s on Ogontz Avenue, according to Will Tasco.

In the meeting, Vaughn said he worked for Cindy Bass’ campaign and represented that the campaign would bring insurance fraud cases against Robin relating to a 2009 car accident if she did not get out of the race, Will Tasco said. In exchange for getting out of the race, according to Will Tasco, Vaughn offered his wife money, or consideration for a position on staff in elected office at the state or city level.

Will Tasco questioned the wisdom of Cindy Bass to be associated with someone like Vaughn. Steve Vaughn could not be reached for comment.

Cindy Bass said she was unaware of the meeting between the Tascos and Vaughn. She called the timing of the Tasco claims suspect. And while people may be uncomfortable with Vaughn’s past conviction and his association with the troubled past of Germantown Settlement, she sees his participation speaking to the need for second chances.

“We have 300,000 convicted felons living among us, working among us, and we’ve got to get those people engaged,” she said.

She said Vaughn approached her for the campaign work and she agreed on principle. “I know that a lot of people are not particularly comfortable with Mr. Vaughn, but part of my campaign is finding ways to write people back in. I can’t be hypocritical about it.”

Bass said the work that Vaughn has been doing for her, scheduling walks through the district to meet people, going door to door with literature, has no relationship to the kinds of things he may have done wrong in the past.

NewsWorks could not determine the relationship, if any, between Steve Vaughn and the challenger in Tasco’s case, Brandon Vaughn.

(Listen to Robin Tasco’s interview on G-Town Radio)

The story above is a corrected version. The original listed the incorrect date of appeal filing, and incorrectly stated Steve Vaughn’s guilty plea to corruption. 

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