Tag Archives: aikens

Some Find Mulitple Ways to Serve for a Taxpayer-Funded Salary

The News Sentinel reports on people who hold multiple positions in local government with Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens as the first example.
In addition to his duties as mayor of the county’s largest city at a salary of $5,400 per year, Aikens serves as chairman of the Lenoir City Utilities Board, a post that pays $5,400 per year plus benefits. …He also works full time for the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. As chief deputy, he is second in command at a salary of $57,472 per year.
…When it comes to serving in office and working a taxpayer-funded job, there are only a few explicit limits under state law.
The County Technical Assistance Service, part of The University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service, was created by statute in 1973 to offer governing guidance to the state’s 95 counties.
According to CTAS Ethics guidelines, “countywide officeholders, such as the county mayor, sheriff, trustee, register, county clerk, or assessor of property, are statutorily prohibited from being nominated for or elected to membership in the county legislative body.”
The Tennessee attorney general has opined it is a direct conflict of interest for a county commissioner who is a county employee to vote on the budget that contains his salary.
Roane County Executive Ron Woody, a former consultant with CTAS, said he knows of no one in Tennessee who holds office under circumstances that violate Tennessee laws.
…Nashville Tea Party Leader Ben Cunningham said he believes it’s only a matter of time before leaders consolidating power in multiple offices begin to push the limits of their authority.
“Power corrupts. More than sex or drugs or anything else that you can think of,” he said.
Cunningham said he doesn’t believe the state’s laws are specific enough regarding potential conflicts of interest. The standard conflict of interest disclosure read by many elected officials before voting is not adequate, he said.
“They are saying, ‘It’s a conflict of interest. I know it’s wrong, but I’m going to do it anyways,'” he said.
The only cure for the situation, Cunningham said, is to get more citizens involved in the process, not just by voting but also by running for office themselves.
Linda Noe is an attorney and political activist in Hamblen County. Noe said she has been working to bring conflicts of interest to light.
“If we had term limits and a state law that only allows one job per person, that would help clean things up a lot,” she said.