Tag Archives: Amax

John Wilder Once Targeted by FBI, Records Show

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The late John Wilder only once came into the crosshairs of an FBI investigation during his record 36 years as Tennessee Senate speaker.
From his election as speaker and lieutenant governor in 1971 until he lost the post in 2007, the Mason Democrat mastered shifting political alliances and avoided a series of corruption scandals that ensnared fellow lawmakers to become the longest-serving presiding officer of a legislative chamber in modern U.S. history. He retired from the Senate in 2008.
The Associated Press obtained Wilder’s FBI file through a Freedom of Information Act request filed after he died in January 2010 at age 88.
The entire 1,047-page file is from a single 1977 investigation into whether Wilder was involved in a scheme to pay off politicians in exchange for the state issuing permits allowing Amax Coal Co. to open strip mines on the Cumberland Plateau.
It took more than a year for the government to produce the FBI documents and they are heavily redacted to obscure most names, many dates and a series of other details, ranging from a newspaper headline to the number of cigarettes one person smoked each day.
The records include no references to later FBI operations that rocked the Statehouse, like the Rocky Top bingo investigation in the late 1980s or the 2005 Tennessee Waltz sting that sent five former lawmakers to prison.

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