District Attorney addresses questions about hiring relatives & his marriage

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton county District Attorney General Neal Pinkston responded today to a published report that he has married an employee and is her supervisor.

The afternoon news release from Pinkston confirms his marriage to Melydia Clewell, listed as a public information officer, who has worked in the office since 2015.

She is listed as a “state” employee.

The D.A.’s office is funded by both Hamilton county and the state of Tennessee.

PInkston included in his statement:

“In my office, there are currently nine employees with relatives also on our staff. None of these employees report directly to a relative. ”

The published report notes that Clewell’s brother, Kerry, is also employed there as a D.A. Secretary.

The question arose during county budget hearings when Commissioner Tim Boyd asked Pinkston if he employs any “relatives”.

Pinkston said “no”.

Boyd told News 12 Now this morning that he is requesting a complete state audit of the district attorney’s office.

Pinkston says his decisions are being “portrayed in a deceptively negative light.”

Here is the full statement”

Chattanooga, Tenn – In response to the May 13, 2021, Times Free Press article, I would like to offer some corrections and clarifications. I have done nothing wrong, and that includes my procedures for hiring or paying employees. It is surprising that Commissioner Tim Boyd isolated my office regarding relatives on staff when he failed to scrutinize the other county offices with similar situations. I can only surmise that this relates to his previous prosecution by my office for extortion. Because I refused to handle his case differently than I would any other citizen, my management decisions — which are both legal and ethical — are being portrayed in a deceptively negative light.


After working for years together, Melydia Clewell and I discovered we had more than simply our shared interest in our jobs. As many other people have discovered, a mature love can develop over time between friends and that is what happened in our lives. Marriage is a private matter, but as I plan to seek re-election as District Attorney, I’m happy to tell you that Melydia and I have committed our lives in marriage. We are blessed. Our situation is not unusual. The most high-profile instance in the state would be the UT Lady Vols basketball coach, who hired her husband to be her main assistant.

In my office, there are currently nine employees with relatives also on our staff. None of these employees report directly to a relative. Each of these employees is well-qualified for the positions they hold and the public is well-served by their hard work. At least 18 of my employees have received substantial raises during my tenure as we have worked to bring their government salaries in line with today’s competitive market.

This distraction is just that — a distraction. I will continue to serve the people of the 11th Judicial District with integrity and diligence. This will be the only statement I make on this matter.

Categories: Featured, Government & Politics, Hamilton County, Local News

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