Campfield drains ‘constituent communications’ account with letter, transfers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Before leaving office, former Sen. Stacey Campfield drained a taxpayer-funded account by sending a farewell letter to constituents and transferring funds to three other senators.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1xdm50s) reports Campfield spent $2,248 on the letter to 7th District residents and records show he split $1,000 between three Republican senators.

The letter begins by thanking constituents “for the great privilege of serving you,” goes on to “share some thoughts and triumphs with you” and then outlines “some of my personal highlights” while in office.

Under rules for “constituent communications” accounts, if Campfield hadn’t spent the money it would have gone to Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who defeated Campfield in the primary. Briggs won the seat on Nov. 4 by defeating Democrat Cheri Siler.

A state law provides the accounts so that lawmakers can mail materials to constituents. Campfield left $15.39 in the account for Briggs, but he, like all state senators, will get $6,832 each year for the account, and that begins immediately.

Briggs said he disagreed with how the money was used.

“I just hate taxpayers’ money used that doesn’t benefit the taxpayer. It doesn’t matter if it’s for this or anything. This is not how I plan to do business,” Briggs said.

In a phone interview, Campfield declared well-wishes for Briggs, but declined to answer questions about the account.

“I wish Senator-elect Briggs every success in the world and hope he does great things for the state,” he said.

Under state law, Campfield’s last day in office was Nov. 4, and Briggs’ term commenced at midnight that day, though he won’t take the formal oath of office until January.