Three months after Scottie Mayfield said his 33-year-old son's tire-slashing incident "has no place in campaigns," audio captures the dairy executive saying, "I'm not ashamed of why he did it."
The remark conflicts with a public apology Mayfield issued April 26 after his son, Michael Mayfield, confessed to slashing a tire belonging to an aide of the man his father wants to beat in Tennessee's 3rd District GOP primary — U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
In a written statement released the day the Kingston (Tenn.) Police Department charged his son with vandalism under $500, Mayfield apologized, called the slashing regrettable and said, "This kind of activity has no place in campaigns."
But at a Nightside Pachyderm Club meeting in June, he had a little more to say.
"Lord have mercy," Mayfield said, according to an audio recording obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "Who would have thought your son would have the passion that he had to lose his head after watching those guys follow us around for two days?
"I'll tell you this," he added. "I don't like at all what my son did, and I'm ashamed of it. But I'm not ashamed of why he did it."
Representatives for Mayfield did not respond to requests to explain the difference between condemning the act and endorsing the reason behind the act.
But Fleischmann spokesman Jordan Powell said Mayfield has confirmed his belief that the dairy executive only apologized because law enforcement charged his son.
"He doesn't want to answer any questions about it," Powell said, "but now these new remarks seem to shed a little more light on things."
The incident occurred as Fleischmann staffers Jordan Powell and Tyler Threadgill watched and videotaped several speeches Mayfield gave during a districtwide bus tour.
"It was for us to have a record of why he was running for Congress," Powell said.
Mayfield's son cut Threadgill's tire in the Roane County Courthouse parking lot. Powell and Threadgill have said they found out about the flat only after a roadside observer stopped their car.
Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said what Powell and Threadgill did was "par for the course," adding that many campaigns pay workers full time to monitor an opponent's speeches.
"If they were booing the speaker or disrupting the event, it's a different story," Oppenheimer said. "But recording your opponent at an open event? That's not something that should have surprised anyone. It happens all the time."
Michael Mayfield's court date was set for Aug. 27. Early voting for the Aug. 2 primary began Friday.
Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp are the other Republicans running against Fleischmann. Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor are fighting for the Democratic nomination, and independent Matthew Deniston also is in the race.