The battle over who will become Tennessee's next State Treasurer is increasingly becoming a point of contention among Republican state legislators and discussion centers on one high-profile candidate for the job.
On Dec. 15 of last year, applicants for the positions of state treasurer, state comptroller and secretary of state were interviewed by a panel of Republican legislators about their qualifications for the jobs. One of the candidates for treasurer is Murfreesboro businessman Ira Brody.
Brody, who moved to Tennessee from New York in 2005, was asked by State Sen. Randy McNally if he had ever been party to any lawsuits or liens. Brody answered that to his knowledge, "no," other than a dismissed lawsuit over a traffic accident. The claim is also made in the form provided by Brody to the Republican constitutional selection committee.
The negative response has been a major source of consternation for Republican elected officials in both the State House and State Senate and a rift is developing within the caucus over Brody's candidacy.
In a review of court records, NashvillePost.com has found that Murfreesboro resident Virginia Harris on June 11 of last year filed a lawsuit against InsCap Management in U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Middle Tennessee. The filing directs that the lawsuit – which is still pending – be sent to the attention of Brody, who was an InsCap partner and its chief operating officer and chief financial officer until Dec. 31.
The lawsuit was filed because Harris was denied employment by InsCap after signing an employment agreement that was conditioned on a criminal records check, a credit check, a credential check, a CRD check, and drugs and other abusive substantives checks. Upon the completion of the check Harris, was notified that she was being denied employment because of two bankruptcies.
InsCap stated no other reason, according to the lawsuit for termination of Harris's employment. That, the plaintiff contends, amounts to discrimination.
A number of Republicans in both houses have told NashvillePost.com on background that they have no opinion about the details of the case, but strongly believe Brody should have mentioned and explained the matter in either the public hearings or on his application form.
For his part, Brody doesn't see why there is a problem. Speaking today to NashvillePost.com, he said, "I was not a party to that lawsuit. That lawsuit is against my former company. The questionnaire was quite specific and I answered the question openly and honestly."
That case isn't the only one being discussed on Capitol Hill. Brody was also a party to two lawsuits when he was seeking public office in New York in 1996 and 2000. Both suits were brought by political rivals seeking to invalidate Brody as a candidate for New York State Senate. Asked about those cases, Brody replied, "This was not a lawsuit directed at me per se. It was a legal action directed at a political candidacy of sorts that was dismissed."
Another area of contention for some elected officials has been with information from the New York Department of Labor regarding tax warrants and worker's compensation issues. Those concerns, however, appear to be misplaced. Companies that Brody sold in 2001 are listed by the New York Department of Labor as having compliance issues, but only after Brody sold them. The companies are Sound and Town Publications, Village News Inc., and Brody Communications.
Additionally, a tax warrant was filed against Lilac Capital, but Brody explained that he was only an employee of that company and that the company he helped form, InsCap, bought Lilac after the fact.
Another tax warrant for about $1,500 was filed in 2005 by the New York Department of Labor against Ira Lawrence Brody Inc. Brody says he was only made aware of the warrant this week and has found that the Department of Labor was sending mail to an old address. Brody said he is getting the problem resolved.