NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The liberal-leaning consumer advocacy group Tennessee Citizen Action has asked for a formal investigation into possible campaign finance law violations in the Nashville mayoral race.
The group held a news conference Friday morning to announce it sent a petition to Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk asking him to launch an investigation into the relationship between the Fox for Mayor campaign and Austin, Texas-based Citizen Super PAC.
"In this summer's general election David Fox benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars, spent on his behalf, by Citizens Super PAC," said Tennessee Citizen Action's legal counsel Gerard Stranch.
George Fox revealed in July that he was the donor funding the $500,000 Super PAC that was benefiting his brother's campaign.
Stranch, who is also the attorney for the Tennessee Democratic Party, pointed to patterns of spending for campaign television commercials as the group's source of concern.
"We found evidence the Fox campaign's TV media buying tapered off, at the same time Citizens Super PAC ramped up its TV spending," Stranch explained.
The group claimed that has been a clear indication the two parties were working together in regards to media buys, and that is a direct violation of campaign finance laws.
"That indicates there was some sort of coordination between them. And frankly, it's just not believable your brother would spend $500,000 to help you get elected and you wouldn't know about it," according to Stranch.
The issue of Super PAC spending came up before the August 6 general election. Tennessee Citizen Action said they just recently finished compiling all of its evidence.
"Now there's more direct evidence that makes it clear that there was some coordination, that at least warrants an investigation. Or Mr. Fox and his brother can sit for depositions and answer these questions directly." said Andy Spears, the group's director.
Tennessee Citizen Action sent letters Friday to the Fox brothers, members of the campaign staff, and Citizen Super PAC asking them to give sworn deposition stating the parties were not involved in any coordination.
A spokeswomen for General Funk confirmed his office did receive a petition from Tennessee Citizen Action, and that staff is reviewing that petition.
Late Friday afternoon the Fox campaign released a statement in response to the accusations made by the consumer group.
"This is clearly nothing more than a media stunt cooked up by Megan Barry and her special interest supporters to try and divert attention away from her ultra-liberal, big spending record and the real issues in the race," the statement read. "Their claims have zero credibility. Nashvillians will easily see through this."
The runoff election in the Nashville mayor's race has been scheduled for September 10.