Tag Archives: gratuity

Emails Show Clerk Charged “Fee” for Marriages (instead of ‘gratuity’)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After an investigation by WTVF-TV showed the Davidson County Clerk was taking $40 from couples to perform marriages, he defended himself by call the money a “gratuity.” But in emails obtained by the station under the state’s open records law, Clerk John Arriola himself refers to the money as a “fee” (http://bit.ly/qGtE7q ).
In one exchange, a bride-to-be inquires about getting married at the clerk’s office.
“I have saved the date and time. The ceremony fee is $40,” Arriola responds.
A message for Arriola from The Associated Press on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
Under Tennessee’s official misconduct law, it is a felony for public officials to use their offices for personal gain.
The county clerk’s office is under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and state auditors, although no charges have been filed.

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Davidson County Clerk’s Wedding ‘Gratuity’ Now Going to Charity

Davidson County Clerk John Arriola will no longer pocket a $40 “gratuity” he has been collecting from people to oversee weddings, says The Tennessean.
Arriola, anticipating that a TV station was going to broadcast a story about his office’s policy on marriage ceremonies, said Tuesday he would instead donate the money to charity. He released a statement saying it had been his practice to “accept a modest gratuity of $40” for officiating marriage ceremonies. He said he has paid taxes on those gratuities.
Arriola said he will continue to officiate weddings and accept the gratuity, which will go toward scholarships or some other charity.
Here’s an excerpt from the referenced story by WTVF’s Phil Williams:
But for the Davidson County clerk, it’s also become big business. His clerks — all Metro employees — charge $40 up front for the ceremony.
However, instead of depositing the money into Metro accounts, Arriola himself pockets the cash.
Arriola: “There is what state law refers to as a gratuity. That is a part of it.”
NC5 Investigates: “A gratuity is something I give voluntarily — a tip. This is a fee that you charge.”
Arriola: “No, I can have a gratuity.”
But several newly married couples said they were led to believe that the fee was mandatory.
“It’s $40, yes,” one bride insisted.
And we listened as another couple asked one of Arriola’s employees, “How much is the marriage part?”
“It’s $40,” the clerk said.
And another employee told our undercover reporter the same thing about Arriola’s ceremonies.
“He does them on Friday mornings from 8:30 until 11. He charges $40 cash,” she explained.