Community Metro Louisville

Democratic candidate Anthony Oxendine has said in interviews and on his campaign website and social media that his bid to be Louisville’s next mayor is endorsed by Tamika Palmer, the mother of police shooting victim Breonna Taylor. But lawyers representing Palmer said she hasn’t endorsed a political candidate in any race, and that a so-called  “endorsement” video of her posted to Oxendine’s Facebook page is misleading.

Oxendine is the owner of Spring Valley Funeral Home, which has locations in Louisville and New Albany. Palmer was thrust into the public spotlight after Taylor was shot and killed by police during a botched raid in March 2020 on her apartment. Oxendine provided funeral services for her family.

In two interviews with WFPL News, Oxendine claimed Palmer decided to endorse his campaign because of his involvement with Taylor’s funeral.

“Her mother came to me at the time and was looking for help. I put my arms around her, told her I loved her and we would make it through this,” Oxendine said earlier this week. “By doing that, she has been loyal to help me in anything I need.”

Attorney Sam Aguiar said Palmer has a lot of respect for Oxendine but that does not equal an endorsement. Aguiar represented Palmer in a wrongful death lawsuit against Louisville Metro and often speaks to the media on her behalf.

“Tamika [Palmer] and I have discussed the mayoral race multiple times,” Aguiar said in a statement to WFPL. “She had nothing bad to say about Mr. Oxendine, but she reiterated that she’s not endorsed anyone.”

Screenshot of Oxendine’s website from March 5, 2022.

When WFPL told Oxendine this week that Palmer denies she’s issued any endorsement in the mayoral race, Oxendine doubled down, saying he still believes she did. Aguiar called the situation “super odd.”

Oxendine has run a low-profile campaign since he announced his intention to run for mayor before a Sunday service at King Solomon Baptist Church last October. He has not hosted any campaign events, and he has not received any political donations, according to campaign finance records filed with the state.

“I put my trust in God,” Oxendine said in an interview. “If it’s meant for me to be the mayor, I’ll be the mayor. If not, that’s fine, too.”

The eastern Kentucky native claims his funeral home provides some level of service for anyone who asks, regardless of whether they can pay. Oxendine has also provided funeral services for victims of gun violence, including  16-year-old Tyree Smith, who was shot and killed while waiting for his school bus last September.

Oxendine’s political platform includes plans for immediately firing Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields, putting the Ten Commandments on the walls of Jefferson County Public Schools and raising the standard of living of the city’s poorest residents.

Oxendine has repeatedly said he wants voters to know he’s not a traditional political candidate.

“If they want a politician, then don’t vote for me,” he said.

An “endorsement” video

Last December, Oxendine posted a 30-second video to his Facebook page “Anthony Oxendine for Mayor.” He shared a series of what he called video endorsements “from important people in our community,” starting with Palmer, Taylor’s mother.

The video begins with an off-screen interviewer asking Palmer, “How do you think Anthony would perform as mayor?”

Screenshot of Oxendine’s campaign Facebook page

Palmer responds that she’s hopeful Oxendine is up for the challenge and that he’ll do the right thing. The video cuts away momentarily and then comes back to Palmer saying, “I would like to think that he would give us hope and change, most importantly.”

Nowhere in the short video does Palmer explicitly say she’s endorsing Oxendine or even that she’s supporting his mayoral campaign.

Lonita Baker, one of Palmer’s attorneys who works with Aguiar’s law firm, said Palmer was invited by Oxendine to do a video she believed was for Spring Valley Funeral Home.

“During the filming of the video, [Palmer] was asked about the qualities that the next Mayor of Louisville would need, which she answered,” Baker said. “She has not endorsed anyone in the mayoral race and has never talked to [Oxendine] about his platform or anything.”

Responding to Palmer’s denial of the endorsement, Oxendine only said that he never paid anyone to endorse him. His video series also included endorsements from Rev. Charles Elliott Jr. of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church and anti-violence activists Rev. Leonard Boyd. Neither responded to inquiries from WFPL. In those videos, unlike the one featuring Palmer, Elliot and Boyd explicitly say they are supporting Oxendine for mayor.

At the time this story was published, the disputed “endorsement” video of Palmer was still up on Oxendine’s Facebook page. His campaign website is currently unavailable.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.