The start of a report from WJHL-TV in Johnson City:
Lance Frizzell is highly respected in Tennessee. His accomplishments are impressive. The Army veteran served as a platoon leader in Iraq and received a Bronze Star. He’s an elected Republican Party Committeeman and has more than a decade of service with the State of Tennessee. Frizzell has multiple college degrees, including a law degree, and is a married father of two.
A Community Watchdog investigation revealed Frizzell can now add another accolade to his resume: highest paid in the nation.
“Good, I’m tickled to death that that is the case,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey said when we told him our findings. “That is the reason we’re a well run state. We hire the best people we can possibly hire. I will defend that all day long.”
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) hired Frizzell as his chief of staff more than three years ago, promoting him from his previous position of communications director. Our analysis of state salary data revealed being the right-hand man for the second ranking leader in the State of Tennessee comes with a nice salary.
According to state salary records, Frizzell is set to make $173,628 this year, which is almost three times as much as Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s salary and only $8,000 less than Gov. Bill Haslam’s salary.
Frizzell is also set to make roughly $8,000 more than Gov. Haslam’s Chief of Staff Mark Cate. In fairness to Frizzell, he is in charge of four times as many employees as the governor’s chief of staff, but when you compare him with people across the United States with similar titles it is not even close.
We spent weeks reviewing recent salary data from every state in the nation and found no one in the United States with the same title makes as much as Frizzell. In fact, our analysis revealed Frizzell makes $70,000 more than the average lieutenant governor’s chief of staff and more than most governors’ chiefs of staff.
“I don’t care,” Lt. Ramsey said of the comparison. “I don’t care. I want to hire the best and I have and I’m tickled to death I did.”
Take one look at Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s organizational chart and you’ll see Frizzell has plenty of responsibility. Ramsey says every penny taxpayers spend on Frizzell’s salary is money well spent.
“There’s not a day goes by, even out of session, that I don’t call him for some kind of advice,” Ramsey said. “He is the (chief operating officer) of a big company, about 150 employees. I live 300 miles away and he runs the day-to-day operations, whether a secretary needs a copier machine or something breaks or tears up with the facility, he’s the one that makes those decisions when I’m not there in consultation with me of course on most of those.”