More TN partisan sniping over misbehavior

The Tennessee Republican Party has cited the theft charges filed against Hamblen County’s Democratic Party chairman in a news release that declares “misbehavior by Democratic officials has become a theme in 2016.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party has cited domestic violence charges filed against Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, already facing trial on federal corruption charges, as an another example that “Tennessee Republican corruption goes all the way to the core.”

The Morristown Citizen-Tribune reported last week that Timothy Wayne Woodard of Talbott, Hamblen County Democratic chairman and a member of the county election commission, has been indicted by a grand jury on nine misdemeanor counts of theft and illegal removal of documents from the Circuit Court office where he once worked.

The newspaper quoted an investigator as saying there were actually 57 files missing from the court office and all were recovered — 55 from the lawyer’s office where Woodard now works and two from his brief cases.

The TNGOP news release cites “the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton” and the conviction of former state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, on a felony charge of filing a false tax return as other examples of misdeeds bearing the Democratic label.

“They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, Hillary Clinton has to be overwhelmed by the efforts of Tennessee Democrats who are doing their best to follow her criminal lead. Add the Hamblen County chairman to the growing list of Democrats who feel they’re above the law — and clearly prove their party should be nowhere near the levers of responsibility in this state,” says state GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes in the news release.

The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro reported last week that Arnold, a Republican, has been accused of domestic violence against his wife, Megan Arnold, following a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe triggered by “rumors” that sheriff’s deputies had failed to file a report after being called to the Arnold home on Labor Day.

The TBI report, included in court documents and reported by the newspaper, says Megan Arnold told investigators the sheriff, intoxicated and having taken a sleeping pill, pushed her to the floor and punched her, then “grabbed a belt and wrapped it around Mrs. Arnold in an attempt to drag her out of the room without leaving marks on her body.”

Arnold already faces a U.S. District Court trial at Nashville in February on charges that he, an uncle and a sheriff’s department employee conspired to personally profit from selling items to inmates at the county jail, which Arnold operates. Most charges in the 14-count indictment involve electronic cigarettes sold to inmates in a facility where smoking is prohibited.

Federal prosecutors contend the domestic violence charge indicates Arnold violated conditions under a bail agreement that allowed him to remain free pending trial and filed a petition asking a judge to order Arnold taken into custody.

Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini said in a news release that Arnold is “the same man the Tennessee Republican Party was promoting as a rising star just a short time ago” and “has already been charged with multiple offenses, including fraud, bribery, extortion and tampering with a witness.”

“From Washington, D.C. to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Republicans’ corruption goes from the top all the way to their roots,” said Mancini in the release. “Tennesseans are tired of Republican corruption at every level of government and they will show their dissatisfaction at the ballot box next month.”

She also cited complaints filed against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker for failing to report some of his investments on disclosure forms and related matters, which Corker has described as an innocent mistake but Mancini depicts as an “insider trading scandal.” And she cited Gov. Bill Haslam “awarding no-bid contracts to his friends,” a reference to various controversies over the governor’s efforts to privatize state services — all of which Haslam has declared were motivated by a desire to save taxpayer money and unrelated to his personal interests or friendships.

Insofar as state legislators go, Mancini has focused on former state Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin, who was expelled from the House recently for what an attorney general’s report described as inappropriate “sexual interactions” with 22 women; while Haynes has focused on Armstrong, who avoided an expulsion vote by resigning from his seat following his federal court felony conviction. — and who was praised afterwards by Mancini for his accomplishments in a long legislative career.

Last week, Mancini also held a news conference to criticize House Speaker Beth Harwell for saying the Durham expulsion had appropriately ended a painful period in state legislative history. Mancini contended further investigation is needed into issues raised in the attorney general’s report on Durham, including an unidentified legislative staffer who lost her job as aide to an unidentified legislator who was friends with Durham.

“We want the speaker to stop taking victory laps and taking credit and to immediately identify and hold accountable the unnamed representative who fired her assistant because she reported sexual harassment,” Mancini said.