“False, defamatory and flagrant” | Jackson’s pastor claims city councilor launched a public smear campaign against him
JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – A pastor in Jackson said a recent press conference was another effort by a city councilor to smear him in the wake of the city’s garbage collection controversy.
In October, Dwayne Pickett Sr. filed a libel suit against Ward 6 Councilor Aaron Banks and Ward 7 Councilor Virgi Lindsay, claiming the two told others he tried to bribe Banks. in exchange for his support for his company’s waste transport contract.
Pickett, a pastor at New Jerusalem Church, is a director of National Wasted United, which was seeking an emergency contract with the city. National Waste’s contract was canceled after city council overturned the mayor’s state of emergency.
In an amended complaint filed Monday, Pickett said Banks continued to make slanderous public statements against him, highlighting an October 22 press conference at town hall and an October 25 Facebook podcast hosted by the local media personality Othor Cain.
“Mr. Banks’ statements on these public forums are false, libelous and egregious. Further, Mr. Banks’ behavior and his willingness to perpetuate his slanderous statements constitute a smear campaign, which constitutes malice in the highest degree and reprehensible disregard for the damage caused to the complainant’s personal and professional reputation ” , he wrote.
The crux of the matter is whether Banks and Lindsay slandered Pickett. Pickett claims Banks told others on one occasion that he offered him $ 50,000 “in return for his affirmative vote on National Waste United’s emergency contract with the city of Jackson.”
Pickett also claims in a separate proceeding, Banks told others that Pickett offered him $ 20,000 in support of the National Waste contract.
“The motive and purpose behind Mr. Banks’ misrepresentation (was) to turn other board members against the idea of endorsing a new solid waste vendor who was unwilling to offer benefits similar to those that he had received from the current vendor, ”says Pickett.
He goes on to say that Lindsay perpetuated Banks’ statements as well to ensure that the current supplier’s contract was renewed.
The seller in question is Waste Management. The company has provided solid waste collection in Jackson for years. However, the previous contract expired on September 30.
On October 22, Banks called a brief press conference at City Hall to discuss the charges against him by Pickett.
He said Pickett tried to bribe him, but the bribe was for his support of the FCC environmental services contract.
Earlier this year, the mayor tried to bring in FCC to replace Waste Management. However, the board twice rejected the proposal by 3-4. Either way, if Banks had reversed his decision, the contract would have been approved.
“Pickett tried to bribe me into voting for the FCC contract the second time it was presented to the board,” Banks said at the time. “I don’t know why he is wrong on the facts, but let me clarify: the offer was to bribe me for the FCC contract.”
Banks said at the press conference that Pickett was to receive $ 500,000 from FCC and had entered into a deal to help the company build its corporate headquarters in Jackson.
The updated complaint was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court. Pickett seeks an undetermined amount of damages, claiming that he has or will have “suffered significant and irreparable damage to his reputation; mental anguish; severe mental and emotional distress; loss of enjoyment of life; past, present and future medical expenses; (loss) of wages; and other economic and non-economic damage.
On Monday, the board approved the hiring of legal counsel to represent Banks in the case and determined that a lawyer would also be needed to represent Lindsay.
Senior Circuit Judge Tomie Green recused himself from the case.
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