Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett was hospitalized Tuesday night for treatment of pneumonia, spokesman Michael Grinder tells the News Sentinel. Grider declined to say which hospital, citing privacy concerns.
“The mayor needs to focus on rest and getting better,” Grider said.
Physicians say patients with pneumonia, which is a lung infection that can lead to fluid build up in the lungs, typically need one to three weeks to recover.
“It’s serious stuff and I’m not taking it lightly,” the mayor said in a telephone interview this afternoon.
“But everyone has been great today, and the doctors have been treating me well.”
Burchett, who checked himself into the hospital and sounded tired when he spoke to the News Sentinel, said he’s “back and forth on how” he’s feeling.
He also said he’s not sure when he’ll leave the hospital.
In the meantime, he said, “everyone (in the administration) will continue to work and the county will be ok.”
In an editorial, the News Sentinel expresses disapproval of the Registry of Election Finance decision to take no action against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett for violations of state law. The state Registry of Election Finance sent a message Tuesday to anyone running for office in Tennessee: “Don’t worry — your campaign finance records don’t have to be accurate.”
The regulatory board voted unanimously to drop its inquiry into Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s election finances, even though members acknowledged the campaign cannot account for $15,537.
The mayor blames his then-wife, who managed the account, for the discrepancy, alleging in a sworn statement that she took the money for personal use. His ex-wife, Allison Beaver, has said everything she did was with the knowledge and blessing of her husband.
State law, however, is crystal clear that the candidate ultimately is responsible for a campaign’s finances.
…The message seems to be that as long as a candidate files the proper paperwork, either on time or after some prodding, registry members will not be concerned about their accuracy. Hypothetically, a campaign worker can simply take from the till. Money then could be distributed as favors or even to buy votes. The family dog could eat the receipts. As long as there is deniability, the registry might just look the other way.
Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance today unanimously agreed to take no action against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, ending its inquiry into a series of irregularities in his campaign disclosure forms.
The decision, members said, comes in the wake of 11 amendments the mayor filed last week with local election officials and a 24-page affidavit he submitted to the state that accuses his now ex-wife of engaging “in a pattern of deception by transferring thousands of dollars to various accounts for her own “personal benefit” and without his knowledge.
The mayor’s attorney, Stephen Zralek, said today that Burchett “went to great lengths” in an attempt to reconcile his campaign books and that the discrepancies are “evidence of a sad divorce” in which “it appears that his ex-wife was funneling campaign funds for her own personal use.”
“This is not a blame game,” Zralek said. “This is reality. The mayor should not have trusted his ex-wife for so many reasons, the least of which is his campaign funds.”
Burchett, who did not attend the meeting, was facing as much as a $10,000 fine for each accounting irregularity.
The six-member state panel, however, said that the mayor’s work is not done, noting that he still needs to at least “zero-out” his statements, since they reflect a negative $15,537 in his political account.
“You certainly have work to do to bring that balance to a positive balance or a zero balance, so keep that accountant busy,” registry member Lee Anne Murray told Zralek.
The attorney, though, said he didn’t know if the campaign “will ever get a complete and accurate picture — we’ve disclosed everything.”
He said Allison Beaver “has refused to cooperate” and turn over receipts and accounting information so “there will always be some confusion about these accounts.”
He said Burchett “takes the ultimate responsibility for complying with the law, but like most of us he trusted those who are closest to us.”
The mayor did not attend today’s “show cause” hearing at Zralek’s request.
The full story from Mike Donila is HERE.
A week before he was set to explain a series of irregularities in his campaign disclosure forms, reports Mike Donila, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett filed 11 amendments to the reports and supplied state election officials with an affidavit that blames his ex-wife for the mistakes. The former Allison Burchett, the mayor alleges, “engaged in a pattern of deception” by transferring thousands of dollars to various accounts for her own “personal benefit” and without his knowledge.
In the 24-page affidavit submitted Oct. 15 to the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, the mayor’s Nashville-based attorney Stephen Zralek says his client was “unaware of any failure from within his campaign to follow campaign finance laws” and that Burchett has “made a complete accounting of all monies based on the records available.”
The mayor also amended sets of finance disclosure forms covering Jan. 1, 2009, through June 30, 2011. Those records were filed with the Knox County Election Commission and include a statement by the mayor.
He says that when the reports were initially filed he “had no knowledge of the inaccuracies contained in those reports nor did I have knowledge of any nonpolitical uses of campaign funds.”
He said he and his new campaign treasurer, Roger Goins, a certified public accountant, have since investigated the matter and that “I strongly suspect that some campaign funds were used for personal use by my ex-wife, Allison Beaver (formerly Burchett).”
The mayor on Friday declined to comment.
“I think the affidavit speaks for itself,” he said.
Allison Beaver did not offer comment when contacted.
The Oct. 15 filings precede the mayor’s Nashville attorney’s meeting Tuesday before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance to answer questions about Burchett’s campaign reports. Burchett doesn’t plan to attend the meeting.
The Knox County Law Department has blocked the release of six emails written earlier this year that appear to involve Mayor Tim Burchett’s problematic campaign account, according to the News Sentinel. The county’s Information Technology Department produced records of the emails, written in January, March and April, in response to a request by the News Sentinel. But the Law Department determined the emails themselves should not be released because they are “personal” and not subject to the state’s Public Records Act.
If the emails do, in fact, deal with Burchett’s election account, they could be relevant to a meeting of the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance next week during which the mayor has been told to explain false entries in his campaign finance disclosure statement and undisclosed contributions to and withdrawals from the Elect Burchett campaign account.
The mayor has blamed his former wife, Allison, who wrote several checks from the campaign account to herself during their marriage and deposited those amounts in the couple’s household checking account.
She has said she acted at his direction. He has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the discrepancies until they were brought to his attention by the News Sentinel in June.
Before a July 22 news story, for instance, he issued a written statement saying, in part: “As a result of these matters having been brought to my attention for the first time, I have initiated a complete review ….”
County computer records show, however, that Allison Burchett sent three emails the morning of Jan. 30 to the mayor, his chief of staff, Dean Rice, and Communications Manager Michael Grider. The subject of the first, sent at 9:30 a.m. was “Financial disclosures.” The subject of the second, sent 35 minutes later, was “FW: elect.” It had an untitled pdf file attached to it. The subject of the third, sent a few minutes after that, was “RE: Financial disclosures.”
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his estranged wife Allison have struck a deal to settle their divorce, court records show.
Further from Jamie Satterfield’s News Sentinel report:
Under the terms of the deal, Burchett walks away with the marital home and half its contents. Allison Burchett currently is living in that home but must vacate it in 30 days.
Each had alleged the other was guilty of inappropriate marital conduct. Allison Burchett’s attorney, Martha Meares, had not filed any document specifying her claim against the mayor.
Burchett’s attorney, Albert Harb, however, did file a specific claim alleging Allison Burchett had cheated on her husband during the marriage.
. The Berke campaign issued a statement Wednesday about his candidacy, but did not respond when asked why Berke is raising money in Knoxville for a Chattanooga mayoral run.
…(E)ven a supporter and campaign contributor expressed surprise Wednesday when told Berke planned a Knoxville reception.
“That’s news to me,” said Joe Decosimo, owner of Decosimo Certified Public Accountants. “Why would he go to Knoxville? He has enough support in the city, he doesn’t need to go there.”
Eighteen hosts are listed on the invitation, including Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, and former Republican Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe. Guests include current Democratic Knoxville Mayor Madeleine Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
Club Leconte is on the 27th floor of the First Tennessee Plaza Building, overlooking downtown Knoxville. According to its website, the club was formed to “serve Knoxville’s corporate, political, cultural and academic community.”
Two other potential mayoral hopefuls in Chattanooga also said they were surprised that Berke was going out of town to raise money.
…Burchett, reached by phone Wednesday, said Berke is a longtime friend — the two served together in the Tennessee Senate.
Even though he’s a Republican, Burchett said, he thinks Berke is a man of honor and would make an excellent mayor.
“If Andy tells me it’s going to snow, I’m probably going to go to Emory’s Five and Dime and get a sled,” Burchett said. “Because he’s honest.”
Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance wants Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to appear before it next month and explain a series of irregularities in the campaign disclosure forms he filed connected with his successful 2010 election run, reports Mike Donilla. The registry, in a 4-1 vote this morning, said it would issue the mayor a “show cause” letter that would require him to explain how the errors occurred and to fix them if possible.
The board – if it eventually chooses to further investigate the issue – also will have to decide later whether to dismiss any issues or assess a civil penalty, which can be as much as $10,000 per offense.
Members told Burchett’s Nashville-based lawyer who was at this morning’s meeting that they’d like the mayor to attend the panel’s next meeting, which was set for Oct. 23.
At issue is a formal sworn complaint filed by local freelance writer Pam Strickland asking state and local officials to look into campaign discrepancies in the mayor’s disclosure forms. Strickland, who writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel but is not an employee of the newspaper, filed the complaint Aug. 8 with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Stickland’s complaint follows a series of News Sentinel articles that raised questions about Burchett disclosure forms filed in his 2010 mayoral run. In the complaint, which includes copies of the newspaper stories, Strickland reiterates much of the paper’s findings.
A six-member state board that investigates campaign finance irregularities will meet next month and decide whether to look further into some questionable disclosure forms filed by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports Mike Donila. In addition, state ethics officials said they also are seeking possible records that the mayor’s estranged wife, Allison Burchett, may have that are related to her husband’s 2010 election.
“We’ve got the complaint and now it’s up to the registry (of election finance) to determine whether it wants to proceed, dismiss or do something in the middle,” said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
At issue is a formal sworn complaint filed by local freelance writer Pam Strickland, asking state and local officials to look into campaign discrepancies in the mayor’s disclosure forms. Strickland, who writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel but is not an employee of the newspaper, filed the complaint last week with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
The state, at the time, said it wouldn’t act until it heard back from local officials.
On Friday, though, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office forwarded the complaint to Rawlins. John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, sent a brief note saying he also has contacted Allison Burchett’s attorney “to retrieve any records in Ms. Burchett’s possession or control related to that election.”
…County Mayor Tim Burchett said: “Nobody wants to get to the bottom of it more than I do.”
Strickland said her “only concern is that it be investigated,” so “it didn’t matter” whether local or state officials looked into the issue, although she did say that “it removed local politics” now that it’s in the registry’s hands.
The registry, which is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans appointed by the governor and the Legislature, will meet Sept. 5 in Nashville. At that time, members will more than likely decide whether to issue the mayor a “show cause” letter that would require him to explain how the errors occurred and to fix them if possible.
The board — if it chooses to investigate the issue — also would have to decide later whether to dismiss any issues or assess a civil penalty, which can be as much as $10,000 per offense.
Knoxville freelance writer and editor Pam Strickland has filed a formal sworn complaint, asking state and local officials to look into questionable campaign finance disclosure forms reported by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports the News Sentinel. Strickland, who sent the complaint on Wednesday via certified mail to the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said: “If there is a problem, it needs to be investigated, and we need to know what that problem is. If there’s not a problem, we need to know that, too.”
John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County district attorney general, said Thursday that he had received the statement, will review it “and then take appropriate action.”
The mayor said Strickland “has every right as a citizen” to file the report, but added: “I find it very odd that it is a newspaper writer filing a complaint and I’m being asked about it before I have even been informed about it by the Attorney General’s Office.”
Strickland writes a weekly column for the Knoxville News Sentinel, although she is not an employee with the News Sentinel or E.W. Scripps, the paper’s parent company. She filed the complaint as “a citizen of Knox County and (a) properly registered voter.”