Former dairy executive Scottie Mayfield says 3rd District congressional candidate Weston Wamp secretly recorded a conversation they had when Wamp came to his home to talk him out of supporting U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the August Republican primary.
"I never dreamed somebody would walk into my house with a bug on," Mayfield said. "I don't want to say negative things about people. But I just don't think that's correct behavior."
Wamp said in an email Friday he recorded the conversation with his iPhone for his own protection during the campaign.
On March 17, Mayfield threw his support behind Fleischmann. Mayfield said he wanted to set the record straight, because he had heard that Wamp's camp was claiming Mayfield's support.
Two days before the announcement, Wamp paid Mayfield an unexpected visit to gauge his support. Mayfield was watching "Sesame Street" with his grandson, but he said he welcomed Wamp.
"He was pretty aggressive with me and challenging me about saying before I was not going to support anyone," Mayfield said.
Mayfield said he didn't know how Wamp heard about the upcoming endorsement of Fleischmann, but he "must have put it together" based on a notice Fleischmann fired off about a big campaign announcement.
The conversation ended and Wamp left, Mayfield said. And Mayfield said he received a text message later that afternoon from Wamp again asking him to withhold any endorsement.
Later that evening, he got a third message that said Wamp had recorded their conversation.
Mayfield declined to forward the text to a reporter, but he read it aloud, giving what he said was the time it was received and the number from which it came.
"To protect myself, I have recorded my conversation with you and Lisa [Mayfield's wife]. I hope you will honor your commitment and not get involved in this race. Thank you sir," Mayfield read.
The text was sent at 7:14 p.m. on March 15, he said. A call to the number Mayfield gave went to Wamp's voicemail, which was full.
Mayfield said he was upset that Wamp had recorded him. He thought they were having a private conversation.
Wamp was campaigning between Huntsville, Tenn., and Oneida, Tenn., on Friday. He said in emails that Mayfield was right in thinking it was a private conversation.
"Scottie Mayfield says he thought the conversation was private and it was, until he made it public today. I intended to keep it private; you will have to ask him why he chose to make it public," Wamp said.
Chip Saltsman, general consultant for Fleischmann's campaign, said Fleischmann "was shocked" when he learned about the recording when Mayfield told him on March 17.
He said they didn't bring up the recording then "because the endorsement was about Chuck, it wasn't about Weston," Saltsman said.
Wamp said Fleischmann's campaign chose to make the text message and recording public nearly two weeks later to attempt to slow down Wamp's campaign momentum.
"It's unfortunate that while I am in Scott County trying to work with people to make their lives better, Congressman Fleischmann is focused on nasty politics again. This is what people all over the district tell me they are sick and tired of from politicians."
This is not the first time Mayfield has been irked over being recorded.
During his 2012 congressional campaign against Fleischmann, then-candidate Mayfield took issue with Wamp over a candid video recording of Mayfield speaking to a group of college students. The video was posted to YouTube, titled "Scottie Mayfield Struggling to Answer Basic Questions" and was made by Wamp's younger sister, Coty Wamp.
Democratic candidate Mary M. Headrick has picked up papers to challenge either Wamp or Fleischmann in the November election. She is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon @timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.