It has been a very public and personal falling out between two political allies and onetime friends U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) and his longtime district director Randy Wade.
When Congressman Cohen ran for re-election in 2012 John Marek was at his side managing the congressman's campaign. He's worked on all of Cohen's campaigns since 2006.
Thursday evening Marek shared with FOX13 News what he saw between the congressman and his former aide.
"I do want everybody involved to know that I was there, I saw it with my own eyes," he said.
Marek decided to share his side of the story after Wade went public with the House Ethics Committee complaint Congressman Cohen had filed against him.
During the 2012 Democratic Primary for a Tennessee House seat, Wade endorsed State Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) and Hardaway sent out a campaign mailer with Wade's congressional title.
U.S. Rep. Cohen had endorsed the other candidate, and when Cohen saw the mailer he reported it to the Congressional Ethics Committee in Washington, D.C.
"How can he allow politics to come between that kind of bond?," Wade asked Tuesday during a news conference. "Congressman I do not understand that."
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Wade defended himself saying he didn't give Rep. Hardaway explicit permission use the quote or the title in a campaign mailer. But Marek disagrees, saying Wade knew about the endorsement before that mailer went out.
"We used to call him Uncle Randy in the office like he was somebody that I really looked up to, and hopefully I can do that again one day," Marek said. "Right now I'm just a little perturbed because yes when he says that slogan came up in mere passing, that it was just a conversational saying, that's not true."
The relationship between the congressman and Wade was deteriorating last year. Marek said the endorsement was a big issue.
"Truth, trust and loyalty are very important things," Marek said. "Not only in politics but also, in personal relationships and relationships in general. Once you violate those tenants you really don't have much left. I think after the incident with the whole literature fiasco, I think that was kind of the beginning of the end."
FOX13 News reached Wade by phone but he declined to comment for this story. At his news conference Wade talked about finding a consensus candidate to challenge Congressman Cohen in the Democratic primary. Marek says Cohen has defeated every challenger since he was first elected.
Congressman Cohen has almost $800,000 in his re-election account.
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