Tennessee State Rep. Arrested for Stealing Opponent's Campaign Signs, Then Bailed Out by Him

by | August 3, 2016

By Clay Bailey

Politics can make for strange allies sometimes. Curry Todd and Mark Lovell proved that Tuesday.

Several hours after Todd, the District 95 state representative, was arrested on a warrant charging him with stealing Lovell's campaign signs, the incumbent was due to be released on bond late Tuesday.

And who posted that $100 bond? None other than Lovell himself. Along with Diane George and Dana Matheny, Lovell is one of three candidates opposing Todd in the East Shelby County race.

"Someone called me and said Curry Todd is still in jail and nobody's posted his bond yet. I thought, we don't need our state representative in jail. He can get out and the judge can decide what to do about it later," Lovell said Tuesday night.

When asked whether he though Todd would repay the cost of the bond, Lovell said: "I don't know. It's like lending money to your nephews. You don't expect to get it back. I figured it was a good deed."

This odd twist to an already highly contentious campaign began on July 17, when a Lovell campaign staffer recorded a shaky video that showed Todd pulling up numerous campaign signs at Winchester and Shea in Collierville.

Todd, who was first elected in 1998, acknowledged two days later that he was the man in the video, but said the property owner had given him permission to put his signs there and also to remove any of his opponents' signs. Multiple attempts to reach the property owner Tuesday were unsuccessful.

"Yes, I did pick up the signs the other day, and I took 'em," Todd said last month. "I wasn't trying to hide anything. It was daylight."

At the time the video surfaced, Collierville police said they took a report, then sent that to the Shelby County District Attorney for review. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office then made repeated attempts to meet with Todd to discuss the situation, but according to sheriff's office spokesman Earle Farrell, Todd never made himself available.

According to Farrell, Todd said he was going to be out of town last week, then said he would come in Friday. When he didn't appear, officials issued an arrest warrant Monday charging Todd with misdemeanor theft under $500. Farrell said Todd was taken into custody at his residence around noon Tuesday.

Todd is due to appear in court next Tuesday.

"It's like my Daddy always said: 'Don't make me come get ya.' And Curry Todd forced us to come get him," Farrell said. "He could have come in very easily and taken care of this and it wouldn't have come to this."

Staff reporters Jody Callahan and Daniel Connolly contributed to this story.

(c)2016 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)