In response to allegations that her organization (Martha O’Bryan Center) coordinated with political group Stand for Children by recruiting volunteers for Stand’s endorsed MNPS School Board candidates, Marsha Edwards released the following statement:
Today’s story in The Tennessean references an email I forwarded to employees of The Martha O’Bryan Center for an opportunity to work as a paid canvasser in the upcoming School Board election, so that it could be passed on to students in our programs or anyone in our organization looking for paid work this summer. I felt that this was an employment opportunity for young people and we would pass along this type of opportunity for ANY candidate and will continue to do so. I added to the email what knowledge I had of the few candidates that I had met and the organization that was hiring. While I have been assured by our legal counsel that this email did not constitute “political activity” as defined by the IRS, I do see how the personal context included in the email could be misunderstood, and I truly regret that.”
“The Martha O’Bryan Center does not engage in political activity and our track record supports that. We are an organization that has been serving the Nashville community for over 120 years and continues to do so without political bias. At Martha O’Bryan we are about breaking the line of poverty through education, employment and family support, not politics.”
Her statement comes even as one of the supported candidates has asked MOB to stop volunteer recruitment.
Additionally, the email from Edwards notes that all the candidates are endorsed by Stand for Children and are “friendly to charters…”
Here’s some more insight as to why Edwards might want more Board Members who are charter-friendly.
Finally, she notes that one of the candidates, Jane Meneely, is a paid consultant for MOB and would be a “strong, smart, well informed, and thoughtful board member.”
I’m curious to know what Edwards would have done had Will Pinkston, Amy Frogge, Christiane Buggs, or Jill Speering asked for her help. Would she have advised them that such recruiting was political, and therefore out of bounds for MOB? Her statement claims she would have passed along the information for ANY candidate who asked.
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