MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A campaign push to re-elect recently-deceased Mobile City Councilman Levon Manzie sparked an investigation from WKRG News 5 to look into why.
The push to get late councilman Levon Manzie re-elected is continuing after death. It includes an ill-fated effort to appoint his mother to his seat and a mail campaign funded by a mysterious group outside Mobile.
A special election would be called if Manzie won this runoff, and with annexation looming, Manzie’s loss means the city loses a for-sure vote for annexation. Many in District 2 received these flyers this week from a political action committee pushing for his re-election, and as WKRG News 5 found out, this group is based out of Auburn — more than 200 miles away.
“Voting for Levon in the runoff election not only protects his legacy, but it also provides the residents of District 2 an opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice through a special election this fall.”
That’s what Levon Manzie’s campaign site says now, 10 days after his death.
Levon’s mother stayed with that attitude on Monday when she accepted the Mayor’s appointment to take over his city council seat. Jeanette Manzie saying that day, “Vote Charles Levon Manzie so we can feel confident, and he can feel confident that he fought until the end.”
But just a day later, she withdrew. The mayor’s office said she called to do so the night after she was appointed. A reasoning for this withdrawal wasn’t given, but this decision by Mayor Stimpson and the continued campaign has prompted our investigation.
Our research shows Jeanette Manzie doesn’t appear to be registered to vote and has no voting history in Mobile — four people in the city with the last name Manzie were register, none of them being Jeanette.
Meanwhile, he’s getting support from outside our area. Here’s a closer look at the flyer sent from Auburn:
It doesn’t mention his passing. It simply says “Manzie delivers results for District 2.” Now it’s possible these were mailed out before Manzie’s death Sept. 19, but it’s very unlikely. The USPS typically delivers bulk mail between three to fifteen days. Funding for the mailers came from “TSA PAC,” PAC meaning a political action committee.
In their online information, TSA PAC says their purpose is to support conservative candidates for state legislature as well as constitutional offices. Yet, it’s funding mailers for a city council race? TSA PAC was formed on Aug. 31, but funding came later. Where and when TSA PAC got their funding gets a bit muddy. TSA PAC received $25,000 on Sept. 20 from Southern Impact LLC, a company directed by John Skipper, a day after Manzie died.
TSA PAC was founded by man with the same last name, Tripp Skipper. Skipper also runs a public affairs company called “Skipper Group.” So, what does this mean? Why is a campaign being funding after a candidate’s death? WKRG News 5 reached out to Trip Skipper for answers too but haven’t heard back.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson wouldn’t comment on the push to get Manzie elected, but he did send us the statement below:
“While state law requires the mayor to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the council, it does not specify a timeline. Given the circumstances of Mrs. Manzie’s request to withdraw her appointment, and the fact that the District 2 runoff election is Tuesday, we are not making any decisions about an interim appointment at this time.”
The election will be held on Tuesday, October 5.