Partisan sniping over Rutherford sheriff corruption indictment

An indicted Middle Tennessee sheriff says he has no intention of resigning despite calls for him to do so from Republican legislators and the state Democratic Party chairwoman declaring him an example of “Tennessee Republican corruption.”

Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold told the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro on Saturday that he has no intention of resigning and, in fact, plans to seek re-election in 2018. The sheriff, one of his top deputies and an uncle were indicted last week on multiple charges of fraud, conspiracy and other misconduct in connection with their alleged profits from a company that sold e-cigarettes to inmates at the county jail, which Arnold oversees.

Arnold was first elected in 2010, defeating the incumbent Democratic sheriff. His win — followed by re-election in 2014 — has been cited as an example in the Tennessee Republican Party’s “Red to the Roots” campaign, which officially got underway in 2013 with the goal of getting more Republicans elected to local office.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini pounced on Arnold’s indictment and tied it to the “Red to the Roots” effort, declaring in a news release, “From Washington, D.C. to Murfreesboro, Tennessee Republicans’ corruption goes from the top all the way to their roots.

“From Sen. (Bob) Corker’s insider trading scandal to Gov. (Bill) Haslam awarding no-bid contracts to his friends to Sheriff Arnold using his position to line his own pockets, it’s clear Tennessee Republicans see our government as their personal piggy bank,” Mancini said.

On the other side of the aisle, Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state GOP sent this rejoinder:

“Tennesseans expect their elected officials to conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards. That is apparently not what they’re getting in Rutherford County and that’s not right. That said, anyone with a basic understanding of our state’s history knows Democrats have the market cornered on corruption. From (former Gov. Ray) Blanton to (former state Sen. John) Ford to (sitting state Rep. Joe) Armstrong, the TNDP has a history of supporting some of Tennessee’s biggest mischief-makers. It would be refreshing if they’d clean up their own messes first. Instead this is more of the same hypocrisy we’ve become accustomed to with the Tennessee Democratic Party.”

Two Republican state senators who share representation of Rutherford County, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, have both called on Arnold to resign since the indictment.

Note: Relevant previous posts include those HERE and HERE.