A new campaign ad for Mobile Mayor Sam Jones is raising the eyebrows of some voters who have noticed the bachelor mayor claims being a husband as one of his many attributes. The commercial also contains an appearance by two on-duty uniformed Mobile Police captains who were requested to show up at the shoot by city officials in a direct violation of the department’s General Order 26.
Within the first few seconds of the new ad, which can be viewed on the mayor’s reelection Facebook page, a list of Jones’ accomplishments and characteristics are presented. One of those appears to fly in the face of the widely held belief Jones is single.
The ad begins “Sam Jones … Navy veteran, husband, father, grandfather, church deacon, commissioner and now our mayor.”
While Jones is a Navy veteran, former Mobile County Commissioner, church deacon and mayor, he has previously stated he was single and did not have children.
In Lagniappe’s 2005 profile of Jones when he was first vying for the mayoral seat, and in his economic interest reports filed with the Mobile County Probate Court, he listed his marriage status and number of children as “n/a,” which means not applicable.
Steve Raby, Jones’ campaign manager, said the ad was still “factual.”
“Sam Jones served in the Navy period. Sam Jones was a husband before he was a father and before he was a grandfather period. Sam Jones was an ordained church deacon period. Sam Jones was a Mobile County Commissioner period. Sam Jones is our mayor period,” Raby said. “The ad is factual.”
When asked when Jones became a father or if he is still married, Raby only said the ad was “factual” or to ask Jones.
A Lagniappe reporter asked Raby if he could ask Jones or put Jones in contact with the paper to which he responded, “You can ask him in court,” referring to this newspaper’s suit to get public records from the city and Mobile Police Department.
City spokeswoman Barbara Drummond said she saw the ad after Raby showed it to her.
“If you listen to the voiceover, it says something to the effect of these are the past roles Mayor Jones has held,” she said.
The ad does not state all of the roles were previously held although he is clearly not a commissioner anymore.
When asked if the mayor was still married and had any biological children, Drummond said that was a question for the mayor or Raby.
According to Mobile County Probate Court records, Jones married Blondie Perine aka Turner in 1977.
The Wikipedia entry on Jones does list him as single and it was last modified as of April 25, 2013. It should be noted Wikipedia does have a history of having some factual errors.
Jones’ website states he “is the father of two daughters and four grandchildren.” The same page shows Jones in a picture with Char-Lee Ross and Tamika McCall, who are identified as his daughters.
Ross, according to Jones’ Facebook page, recently had a son. Ross’ maiden name, according to Mobile County Probate Court records, was Turner.
Friday afternoon, Jones made a post to his Facebook page saying, “the ad simply states the many roles I have held in my life. Though the marriage did not work out, it gave me a beautiful daughter who just named her son as my namesake — Leon Jones.”
However, Jones’ comments were pulled off the site a short time later.
Violation of MPD General Order
The commercial features Jones speaking with two on-duty uniformed Mobile Police officers, Captains Carla Longmire and Jack Dove. The two were called by city officials to appear in the video.
“Captains Carla Longmire and Jack Dove were on duty when they were asked to meet Mayor Sam Jones at a designated location. As a result, a commercial was produced. Neither Chief Michael Williams nor anyone from his staff ordered the Captains to meet Mayor Jones or to appear in the commercial,” MPD Legal Adviser Wanda Rahman wrote in a statement today.
Rahman confirmed the captains’ appearance was indeed a violation of department policy, but said the mayor may not have known that when he included the officers in his commercial.
“Their appearance in uniform and on duty is a violation of Mobile Police Department General Order, however, I do not believe Mayor Jones knew it was a violation at the time the commercial was produced and aired,” Rahman wrote.
General Order 26 deals with political or religious activity and subsection 26.19.02 states: “A member or employee may campaign or engage in political activity, however they must do so while off duty and out of uniform, and they may not use any City property in these political activities. Members and employees are expressly prohibited from engaging in any political activity while in uniform or while using City vehicles or other property. Members or employees are specifically prohibited from appearing in any political commercial, brochure, or advertisement while in uniform or while otherwise displaying any item or article that identifies a person as an employee of the Mobile Police Department. These items include but are not limited to uniforms, badges, and departmental patches.”
Both officers in the ad are wearing Mobile Police Department uniforms and are seen listening to the mayor next to MPD patrol car.
Whether the violations warrant any disciplinary action is not clear at this time. Raby said there are no plans to pull or modify the ad at this time, despite its violation of department policy.
“I’m responsible for the ad and I’m just not that familiar with local policy,” Raby said.
“I think it’s a good ad. It’s gotten a lot of attention,” he added.
Raby also said the Stimpson campaign has used MPD logos and images in some of its material. Stimpson’s website does feature a MPD sleeve patch as a button, but a perusal of the site did not turn up any MPD officers in uniform.
This article was updated Aug. 2, 2013 to include updated information about police department policy, names of officers appearing in the political advertisement and a statement from the department’s legal advisor.
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