East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert on Monday played audio of three calls that led to an extortion charge against County Commissioner Tim Boyd.
The calls were played to reporters at a press conference at the East Ridge Community Center beside City Hall.
The attorney for Commissioner Boyd, Lee Davis, called it "curious business" that Mayor Lambert would hold the press conference and release the tapes.
Both Boyd and Lambert are vying for the District 8 County Commission seat.
Mayor Lambert said he decided to record the calls "because I wanted a witness" to the exchange. He said no one had instructed him to make the recordings.
He said Tennessee "is a one-way consent state" on recordings.
The mayor said the commissioner is "scared, desperate, delusional and a bully." He said Commissioner Boyd "lies repeatedly."
Mayor Lambert said he made the first call on Feb. 16 after getting a call the night before from an attorney saying that Commissioner Boyd had called saying he had some damaging information against Mayor Lambert. He said the call was from Allen McCallie, who is associated with a lawyer for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, where Mayor Lambert is CEO and president.
He said the calls were made to Commissioner Boyd on his job at a manufacturing plant in Calhoun, Ga. In the first call, Commissioner Boyd said the information had been provided to him by his political team. He said, "It looks very suspicious and certainly unethical. It is all documented. It's not going to look good for you, Brent."
He added, "My political team says this is really bad." Commissioner Boyd said on the tape that his team was pushing to make the information public, but he said he did not want to hurt Mayor Lambert, his family or the Railroad Museum.
Mayor Lambert, at the press conference, said the information apparently referred to him accepting large campaign donations from the developers of the Bass Pro Shop property at Exit 1 and him afterward paying off an old campaign debt. He said there was nothing illegal or unethical about taking the money and paying off the prior debt.
On the tape, Mayor Lambert asked Commissioner Boyd, "What do you want me to do?"
Commissioner Boyd said, "What I prefer you to do is just drop out of the race and everything goes away." He also said, "If you stay in the race, it's not going to be pretty. It will go to every media outlet there is and there will be robo calls. It will be no holds barred."
In a call on Feb. 20, Commissioner Boyd said, "I don't want to hurt you, Brent." He said the Railroad Museum is "an icon" and he also did not want to harm it. But he said the information his team had found showed he had acted "blatantly unethically." He said, "It's not conjecture, Brent. They showed me the documents." He said one of his team members said the information was, "As juicy as it gets. He can't wait to turn it loose."
Commissioner Boyd said in the tape that he did not want others to know, but that this would be his last term before he retires. He said, "This is just a little County Commission job. You're doing great things in East Ridge, Brent."
Mayor Lambert asked if he withdrew could the information still come out. Commissioner Boyd said former state Rep. Ken Meyer had offered to take all the documents and turn them over to Mayor Lambert after he withdrew.
In a final call, Mayor Lambert said he had decided he did nothing wrong and he was going to stay in the race.
Mayor Lambert said he hopes the issue about the alleged threats is over and the campaign can get back to "the issues."
Attorney Davis said, "Political candidate Brent Lambert issued a press release Friday threatening Tim Boyd that he will release a secretly recorded conversation today in order to gain political advantage in an election. Mr. Lambert is committing the same act today that he complained of last week.
“If Mr. Lambert really believes he is the victim of a crime, as he claims to be, it is curious business for him to hold a press conference today to release evidence, as he announced he intends to do. As a political candidate, Lambert is holding a press conference today, he says, to release a conversation that he secretly recorded of a political opponent. Puzzlingly, Mr. Lambert initiated the call to Commissioner Tim Boyd for the purpose of recording him. This act by Mr. Lambert, followed by an indictment, and now followed by his announcement that he will release evidence in a pending criminal case, is a mockery of our legal system. Mr. Lambert and those individuals who are helping him with his threats against Commissioner Tim Boyd should be held accountable for their actions.
“My law office will be representing Commissioner Tim Boyd in a court of law on Friday, and we will ask the court to set this matter for trial at the earliest possible opportunity so that we may do our part to seek justice on behalf of Commissioner Tim Boyd and to hold political candidate Brent Lambert accountable for his actions in this matter."