Durham tax returns facing subpoena

The state Registry of Election Finance plans to subpoena expelled Rep. Jeremy Durham’s federal tax returns as part of an investigation into whether he used campaign funds for personal expenses, according to The Tennessean.

The state must obtain more records to learn about any potential violations and to uphold the integrity of the organization, said board Chairman Tom Lawless during a meeting Wednesday.

“This organization stands for making them do it right. And I’ve got some real serious, serious concerns — as we all have — that he may not have done it right. Or he was so mixing and matching his personal finances, business finance, whatever proclivities he might have had out there,” Lawless said.

The state House of Representatives expelled Durham by a 70-2 vote on Tuesday, only the second expulsion since the Civil War … Few representatives referenced the ongoing state campaign finance investigation, also spurred by the attorney general after a former Durham employee said Durham asked him to take money from his campaign account and put it into his title company.

Durham refutes that claim, pointing to a recent state registry memo that notes that an expenditure to the former employee may not have come directly from Durham’s campaign account. But Durham did acknowledge, in a wide-ranging eight-page letter sent to colleagues on Monday, that the $191,000 discrepancy between his campaign finance report and campaign bank accounts discovered by the state is due to large investments.

Recently, prominent GOP donor Andy Miller confirmed that Durham invested campaign funds into his account. Durham also recently closed his title company. Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign finance, said the closure would have no affect on the registry’s ability to obtain Durham records.

Lawless and the rest of the state registry said there’s still more that needs to be investigated, and that the tax returns could potentially shed new light on how Durham may have or have not used campaign funds.

…”I’d like to get this sordid detail finished, to the end, and close the chapter of Mr. Durham,” Lawless said.

…Rawlins said he anticipates the investigation will be complete by October or November.