Scottie Mayfield apologized to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann "and to the voters" after his 33-year-old son confessed to slashing a Fleischmann staffer's tire at a Mayfield campaign event.
"I am truly sorry and embarrassed," wrote Mayfield, who's challenging Fleischmann in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District Republican primary. "This kind of activity has no place in campaigns and we are regretful that it happened."
The Mayfield campaign initially denied having anything to do with the incident, and the well-known dairy executive issued a public apology at the same time the Kingston Police Department on Thursday charged his son with a misdemeanor -- two facts Fleischmann campaign spokesman Jordan Powell cited in dismissing Scottie Mayfield's atonement as "politically motivated."
"Is he apologizing because he's sorry or because his son got caught?" Powell said.
Police charged Michael Mayfield with vandalism under $500 after he confessed, officials said.
The incident was caught on video. Mayfield strategist Tommy Hopper recently promised that the campaign would abstain from "political games" and "silly and childish attempts to diminish the other guys" after another video -- "Scottie Mayfield Struggles to Answer Basic Questions" -- anonymously was uploaded to YouTube last week.
The tire slashing occurred Tuesday in the Roane County Courthouse parking lot during a stop on Scottie Mayfield's districtwide bus tour. Powell and Fleischmann campaign manager Tyler Threadgill attended the stop to monitor Mayfield's remarks.
The relevant footage shows a man stepping off Mayfield's bus and walking up to Threadgill's 2005 Audi before he starts "fooling with the wheel," according to a Kingston, Tenn., Police Department report. The man "cut the tire stem," causing a flat tire for Threadgill "down the road," the report said.
Kingston Assistant Police Chief Gary Nelson on Thursday said that, during the bus-tour visit, Michael Mayfield had to return a pocket knife to the bus after setting off the courthouse's metal detector.
Mayfield campaign spokesman Joe Hendrix said the younger Mayfield admitted responsibility to his father, gave a statement to Kingston law enforcement and was released early Thursday morning.
Nelson confirmed that account, adding that authorities will issue a citation and set a court date today.
Michael Mayfield is a Baylor School and Auburn University graduate, according to his Facebook page. Federal Election Commission records show he does not work on his father's campaign, but records show he contributed $5,000 to it in March. His occupation is listed as "farmer" at Mayfield Farm.
In his statement, Scottie Mayfield said his son "is prepared to make full restitution for the damage that was done to Mr. Threadgill's tire." Powell said Threadgill hasn't been able to get a mechanic's estimate.
Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp also are running in the 3rd District Republican primary.
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...