Tennessee officials are taking the rare step of trying to remove a small-town mayor accused of frequently using racial slurs and targeting Hispanic drivers for tickets because they are "mostly illegal anyway."
District Attorney General John W. Carney filed the 17-page complaint this week after more than 500 of Coopertown's nearly 3,000 residents brought a petition to him.
The complaint accuses Mayor Danny Crosby of frequently using racial slurs since his election in 2004. In one instance, the complaint said Crosby swore in a new police officer on the Martin Luther King Day holiday and said, "Happy James Earl Ray Day," a reference to the civil rights leader's assassin.
Crosby, 52, who has denied the allegations and said he will fight the ouster effort, declined to comment to The Associated Press. He now has 20 days to file an answer to the complaint.
In an interview with The Tennessean newspaper, Crosby said the allegations were "full of garbage and lies."
"I've done nothing wrong," he said. "They better be able to prove every word in that document."
The mayor is also accused of ordering police officers to ticket soldiers and Hispanics for speeding because he thought neither group would contest the fines in court.
Carney said his office started investigating earlier this year after news reports said AAA, a national automobile association, was considering naming Coopertown a "traffic trap." The town, about 20 miles north of Nashville, expects to get 29 percent of its revenue, or $400,000 a year, from traffic fines.
The complaint also accused Crosby of using the police to target his critics, telling officers to plant a liquor bottle in an opponent's car so she could be arrested for driving drunk. Carney said it was never carried out.
Crosby also is accused of telling officers to watch, ticket or arrest several city officials and of ignoring a police officer's failed psychological test because "he's my star ticket writer." The complaint also accuses Crosby of violating child-labor laws by hiring several teens, including his stepson and the son of the town's vice mayor, to mow grass.