Columnist sees misconduct in prosecution for political mailing

The case of Clarice Gunn, a 68-year-old Jefferson County woman charged with making an illegal campaign mailing is the subject of a Frank Cagle column.

I think she’s been libeled and there ought to be a grand jury investigation of public misconduct.

…Gunn is one of the property owners who helped derail the attempt to create an industrial megasite on Interstate 81 by using eminent domain to take farmland. When exposed, the county dropped it like a hot rock…The upshot of all this unrest has led to a lawsuit attempting to make the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and its industrial development board comply with the Public Records Act and open up the books on how county appropriations are being spent. The courthouse and chamber crowd suspects Gunn is financing the lawsuit.

Now to the crime. Before the last election the dissident property owners were trying to figure out what to do to elect commission candidates more sympathetic to property rights. They came up with a letter to the voters endorsing a slate of candidates. It was not an anonymous broadside; it contained the names of 45 prominent citizens. Most of their candidates won and the courthouse crowd’s boys lost.

Gunn had paid a mail house in Knoxville to mail copies to a voter list. State election law requires that the people paying for election mailers be identified. It’s usually some phony organization at the bottom like “Citizens for Good Government.” This letter had 45 citizens’ names on it; it was not an anonymous broadside.

…A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent prepared a summons based on an anonymous complaint. It charges Gunn with an election law violation for not putting on the letter that she paid the postage. (A TBI press release – previous post HERE – initially and mistakenly said Gunn was indicted.)

…Since when is a letter advocating candidates against the law? There is a real question here if an election law violation occurred, much less a crime.