Facebook Comments Cost Chamber Official His Job

Hayes Ledford Resigns Position As Vice President of Public Affairs

Friday, September 25, 2009 - by Judy Frank

The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist and public affairs official resigned Friday, two weeks after posting a controversial diatribe on the social networking site Facebook.

His departure comes just one day after Chamber officials sent an email to board members notifying them that Mr. Ledford had been suspended without pay for a month.

The controversial Facebook comments were posted on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, and included repeated profanity and racial slurs.

"This picture says it all, even after eight years. It symbolized our anger after those ragheaded b------ds manifested theirs through death and destruction. There is no substitute for victory and plenty of work left to be done. There is something to be said about the 'Chicago way,' but Sean Connery (in the film 'The Untouchables') left out the last line ... when they send one of yours to the morgue, you send a thousand of theirs straight to hell,” Mr. Ledford wrote.

"We don't need to be reckless in our resolve,” he continued, “nor fail to remember that they came at us. Measure it right, use overwhelming force and decapitate those sons of b------s once and for all."

The comments, which were summarily deleted within days after they were posted, were available to his 730 Facebook “friends” who reportedly included both state and local officials as well as members of the Chattanooga business community.

Despite their deletion, they have prompted numerous comments on Internet blogs, many from people who apparently know Mr. Ledford.

One message, posted on KnoxNews on Sept. 18 by "Blue Eyes", said simply, “Mr. Ledford does have a reputation for going off at the mouth.”

Prior to the Facebook posting, Mr. Ledford was a familiar face throughout the county and was frequently invited to speak to local civic groups, whom he regaled with stories on the behind-the-scenes negotiations which led to Volkswagen’s decision to build a plant here.

On Sept. 18, for example, he was the featured speaker at the Chamber’s Soddy-Daisy/North Hamilton County council meeting where, according to an advance press release, his topic was “the economic impact of the new Volkswagen project . . . on Chattanooga and surrounding communities such as Soddy-Daisy.”

He also served as the organization's chief lobbyist in Nashville.

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