In a further development to the story that broke last week regarding McNairy County Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Eddie Crittendon’s resignation, new controversy is swirling over comments made by Crittendon in a text conversation with county resident Jeff Sisk.
The conversation, which was posted publicly on social media, shows Crittendon repeatedly messaging Sisk regarding a previous social media post Sisk made discussing Crittendon’s contract.
According to both Crittendon and Sisk, Crittendon also called Sisk numerous times over the span of many hours.
“You’ve made all these remarks…and I’ve called you 12 times and you won’t answered (sic) Jeff Sisk. Really,” Crittendon said, initiating the conversation.
“I know you hate John but why not get the damn truth,” he continued. “I’ll help you bury John.”
John Smith, Selmer City mayor and fellow member of the McNairy County Joint Economic Development Partnership Board, was the board member who initially proposed renewing Crittendon’s contract at the last meeting and voted in favor of the renewal.
When asked about the latter comment, Crittendon denied that he was being serious.
“Well my comment was in jest, and it was taken out of context. It was a comment between he and I—and I’m not going to comment on it,” he said, before continuing to comment, “John Smith is a great guy. He’s one of my dearest friends and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.”
Crittendon later emphasized in his messages with Sisk that he was “not a John Smith a**-kisser.”
The Independent Appeal also asked Crittendon to clarify his own statement made to reporters previously: in a comment published in last week’s print edition, Crittendon said he had “just texted (Sisk) asking why he was attacking me.”
Based on the new messages provided, this was not the case.
“I don’t know what to say,” Crittendon said in response. “I don’t want to get into this great, big, huge thing. It’s done, it’s over. What was said was said.”
When pressured on the fact that he, as a public employee, called and texted a private citizen numerous times regarding the citizen’s own social media, Crittendon stated that it was a “kind of a private matter.”
“I don’t know where that would be of public interest,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. It was a conversation between Jeff and I, and I just wanted to figure out what in the world he had a problem with me about.”
Sisk did not seem to agree with Crittendon’s perspective of their conversation.
“I’m not sure he ‘reached out’ to me so much as irritated the fire out of me for six hours, calling me and texting back and forth” Sisk said. “I mean, it went on from 15 minutes-to-nine until three in the morning.”
“I made an opinion on Facebook, and opinions are just that—opinions,” he added, saying that many county residents both agreed and disagreed with his statements, but kept conversation civil.
“I told him I didn’t want to be called and hassled like that,” he said, referring to Crittendon’s calls. “And the next thing I know, someone has called me to tell me he’s turned in his resignation. And that’s the extent of it.”
John Smith could not be reached in time for comment.
Crittendon, who held the CEO position for exactly five years to the day of his resignation, will maintain his job until February 28.