News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has determined that the non-profit organization “Without Warning” did not investigate the case of missing Tennessee woman, Holly Bobo, to law enforcement standards as reported by Nashville television station WSMV which aired several stories during newscasts this month as well as a special documentary which aired May 12, 2013.
While speaking to TBI Special Agents, each member of the private investigative team admitted that they regurgitated information they had heard and read in order to talk about the case on television.
In addition, the founder of “Without Warning,” Sheila Wysocki, wrote in an email to a TBI Special Agent, “You all have to realize that we have been able to make any story surrounding this case a ratings winner and online success which was the goal. In return, someone may come forward to be the hero and give you all the right information to resolve this case.” Each member of the team stated the information provided to them came from the victim’s family.
Some Southeast Tennessee lawmakers including state Sen. Mike Bell and Reps. Eric Watson and Kevin Brooks say constituents have been bombarding them with messages and questions about the allegations of multiple problems under District Attorney General Steve Bebb.
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press, which pointed out the allegations in a recent series, now reports on the legislators calling for an investigation. “I believe my constituents would like to see this matter cleared up,” said Bell, a Riceville Republican who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bell said he has spoken to the Senate leadership and to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“It is my understanding that they [TBI] are looking into the allegations,” Bell said. “I hope that there is an investigation that would get to the bottom of this one way or the other, and that would bring some type of closure to this situation.”
Watson, a Cleveland Republican, former captain in the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a written statement that “the integrity of the system of justice in the Tenth District and in our State should not be determined by mere rumors — nor should the reputation of Steve Bebb.
“If rumors or statements alleging misconduct are true, action should take place, either voluntarily by District Attorney Bebb or by the appropriate authorities including the Tennessee House of Representatives, to ensure that our laws are administered properly,” Watson wrote. “District Attorney Bebb has been seriously maligned by the information which has been presented. If the alleged charges are untrue, he should be cleared of these allegations by the appropriate authorities and the rumors should be dispelled.”
Brooks, also a Cleveland Republican, said he was deferring to his colleagues’ Judiciary Committee experience.
“Obviously they are the ones in the criminal investigations business,” Brooks said Friday.
Contacted by telephone Friday, Bebb said, “I’m not going to comment to you. You’re not going to get a comment from me.”
Politically motivated slander suits are nothing new in Tennessee, and Davidson County Circuit Judge Joe P. Binkley seems to have found more of the same in Black v. Zelenik, going so far as to state that charges of U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s wrongdoing are “substantially true.”
So reports the Murfreesboro Post in an article that the Black campaign sharply criticizes (see end of post): David Black, husband of Diane Black (R-Gallatin), and his drug testing firm, Aegis Sciences Corporation, filed suit in the midst of a hotly contested U.S. House primary campaign against Lou Ann Zelenik in 2010 after her campaign began airing ads that accused Black of steering millions of dollars in no-bid state contracts to her husband’s firm through her position as a state senator, in violation of state law.
“The communication was true or at least substantially true,” reads the April ruling by Binkley, who sided with Zelenik and summarily dismissed Black’s lawsuit as frivolous.
Black’s firm appealed the ruling in late April, and the matter is ongoing in the midst of another primary battle with Zelenik for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District.
Documents reveal accusations of Black and her husband profiting from her political power in the state senate were nothing new, having been copied nearly word-for-word from a Tennessee Democratic Party mailer during Black’s 2008 re-election campaign for state senate.
Additionally, Black’s actions were detailed in a December 2007 issue of The Gallatin Newspaper, and were the subject of a WSMV Channel 4 News investigation in January of the same year.
Neither Black nor her family business hauled anyone to court at that time, but, then again, she was cruising to re-election by a 2-1 margin and had poured more than $50,000 of her own money into the race, according to documents filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
Her 2010 contest with Zelenik became a much different race, not only because she was seeking higher office in U.S. Congress, but also because she had a formidable opponent. UPDATE: From Jennifer Baker of the Diane Black campaign via email after this was initially posted. “At the same time the Murfreesboro Post ran this misleading article they also ran on the cover of their publication a photo shopped photo of Lou Ann Zelenik with a gun pointed at Diane Black’s face. They are clearly engaged in a smear campaign against Diane and will go to any length to pursue their liberal agenda. Not only did they fail to contact our campaign for a response, they omitted key facts regarding Zelenik’s false and misleading ads. For example, the company that Lou Ann Zelenik paid to make the ads attacking Diane Black settled out of court and paid a financial settlement. In the settlement papers filed with the court the advertising firm states it has no knowledge of any unethical, illegal or improper behavior. “-Jennifer Baker, Black spokesman
Excerpt from Andrea Zelinski’s report on the Ford-Shipley case: Now that the district attorney has concluded there are no criminal charges to file, Shipley says he wants a legislative probe into where the original complaints came from and whether the state could pursue charges against the individuals who issued “fabricated” allegations.
“It had to be exaggerated in order to get the district attorney to act, and it’s just unfortunate that these people have wasted thousands of dollars of the taxpayer’s money by having this investigation,” Shipley told TNReport.
“So we’re going to inquire as to the cost and time spent by TBI and the DAs office and all that. I think as a minimum, the person who orchestrated this ought to reimburse the state for the expenses we incurred,” he added. “In a pre-election year when we’re trying to raise money, raising the concerns about the ethics of legislators, it’s not a healthy thing for us, and I intend for it to not be a healthy thing for the person that did it, if I can figure out who did it.”
Johnson said he has no intention to go after anyone who filed complaints against the two legislators.
“Nothing that I’m saying says it (was) a false complaint,” said Johnson. “In the end, I did not feel that the activities of the legislators — while I’ve obviously been critical of them — I didn’t think they amounted to a crime. But that doesn’t mean that the initial complaints were false.”