NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Add former Gov. Winfield Dunn to the list of prominent Tennessee Republicans maintaining a careful distance from embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais following revelations the congressman once urged a woman he had an affair with to seek an abortion.
Dunn has been an active campaigner for Republican candidates and causes since leaving office in 1975. But he told reporters after attending the launch of the bipartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt-Tennessee on Wednesday that he had not been asked to campaign on DesJarlais’ behalf.
“He’s got a campaign well under way, but of course he has some matters to deal with that obviously are going to cause him quite a challenge,” Dunn said. “But he’ll make his way.”
Four electronic donations to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s 2010 election totaling $2,000 were not recorded on his campaign finance disclosure reports as required by law, reports Mike Donila. The money was deposited into an “Elect Burchett” PayPal account, an online system that allows people and businesses to transfer money via email. In four other instances, records show that a combined $1,600 was shifted out of that PayPal account and into Burchett’s personal PayPal account, which at times he has used to buy goods from Ebay, an Internet auction site.
The transfers and how the money was used also were not recorded on disclosure reports. The eight transactions took place between Jan. 26, 2010, and Oct. 28, 2010.
Burchett, a Republican, became mayor Sept. 1, 2010. The mayor blamed his estranged wife, Allison Burchett, for the campaign finance law violations, saying he did not have access to the Elect Burchett PayPal account and was unaware funds were moved into his personal PayPal account.
“My wife set up this PayPal account, handled all funds deposited in the account and was the only person with access to the account,” Tim Burchett said in a one-page “press release” that he gave to the News Sentinel.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s household checking account shows deposits that match undisclosed checks his wife wrote to herself in 2010 against his mayoral campaign fund, reports the News Sentinel. On one statement, those deposits add up to more than 70 percent of all the money deposited that month into the Burchetts’ joint account, which subsequently was used to pay for mortgages, utilities, insurance, gas, credit cards and personal purchases.
Allison Burchett, who is seeking a divorce from the mayor, met with a News Sentinel reporter and editors to respond to her husband’s statement that he was unaware that she had written checks to herself from the Elect Burchett mayoral fund that were not revealed on campaign disclosure statements as required by law.
Allison Burchett allowed the journalists to review statements from the couple’s joint First Tennessee Bank checking account covering a period of several months during the mayor’s 2010 primary and general election campaigns.
But she would not release copies of the statements to the newspaper without the mayor’s permission. Burchett refused, saying: “I will not legitimize Allison’s conduct by agreeing to debate these issues in the newspaper nor release private information for that purpose. All of these issues will be thoroughly vetted in my divorce. This is an intensely personal and private matter and I intend to try to keep it that way.”
The News Sentinel reported June 24 that Allison Burchett wrote six undisclosed checks to herself totaling $15,053.56 from the mayoral election fund. She also wrote a check to herself for $4,250, listing it on the disclosure statement as reimbursement for payment to a company that has said it did no work for the Burchett campaign.
The day the story appeared, she was fired from her job at Clayton Bank, she said. She had been hired into the executive position shortly after the mayor’s election in 2010.
…Although she was not the campaign treasurer, Allison Burchett filled out her husband’s disclosure forms during the campaign and handled the “Elect Burchett” checking account. She did so, she said, under her husband’s direct supervision.
“Tim oversaw the campaign account, Tim instructed me to write the checks and Tim is the one that instructed me to deposit the checks into our joint bank account,” Allison Burchett, who filed for divorce in late April, said in a prepared statement. “Tim knows this and it is hurtful that he would feign ignorance of it to try to portray me as a villain or a thief. I am neither. I did trust him, and as far as I knew, Tim’s instructions for me to write the checks and to deposit these checks in our joint account were entirely appropriate.”
Tim Burchett denies the allegations, saying it was his wife’s job to manage the account while he focused on campaigning. He says the receipts supporting the campaign expenditures are at the couple’s home, which he can no longer access.
“As a result of these matters having been brought to my attention for the first time,” he said in a prepared statement, “I have initiated a complete review of every expenditure in my campaign account. That process has been complicated because all of the records are in the possession of my wife. I have and will continue to amend my campaign financial disclosures as required and a full reconciliation of the accounts will be completed. My wife, Allison Burchett, continues to discuss the matter with the News-Sentinel and has inappropriately provided them confidential information.”
Allison Burchett says she has no campaign expenditure receipts.
The gubernatorial claim, made in a speech last week to the Carter County Republican Party: “In Tennessee – personal income is growing faster in Tennessee on average than any other state in the country.”
Which just isn’t so, reports Politifact Tennessee. Read the report HERE.
Gov. Bill Haslam gave an upbeat message to the Carter County Republican Party during its Reagan Day Dinner on Friday, reports the Johnson City Press. Haslam spoke about the progress the state has made during the past two years under the leadership not only of a Republican governor but also a Republican-led House and a Republican-led Senate. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the leader of the Senate, was in the audience.
…He said that as a result of that leadership, personal income is growing faster in Tennessee than in any other state.
The state unemployment rate was more than 10 percent during the 2010 campaign. He said today there are more Tennesseans working than at any time in the past four years and the unemployment rate has dropped below the national average.
….Haslam told his Republican audience that the 2012 national election may very well be the most important in many years.
He said the reason for its importance is the two candidates offer a clear choice on which direction the nation will head.
He said the choices are whether we will “totally rely on the government for all our problems or whether we really believe in the free enterprise system … whether we will choose the path of Europe and more debt or whether we will spend less than we bring in.”
Haslam said he though it was going to be a very close election.
News release from state comptroller’s office:
The Oak Ridge Utility District’s general manager used his position for personal benefit on more than one occasion, an investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit has revealed.
Also, the district paid travel expenses for two employees and their spouses to go on a trip to Rome, although they performed no work-related duties during that trip.
The general manager bought a damaged skid steer, a machine which had been used by the district for loading and digging. After he bought parts to repair the skid steer, he then ordered the district’s mechanic to repair the machine at the district’s shop, using district tools and materials, before taking the equipment home for his personal use.
The district also paid $463 to add a subscription to XM satellite radio in a Chevrolet Tahoe purchased for the general manager’s use. The $38,820 vehicle’s amenities included an off-road package, heated leather seats and a premium sound system – all of which were required to meet the district’s minimum bid specifications for the vehicle.
Investigators determined that two district employees and their spouses went on a three-day trip to Rome at the district’s expense. The trip was organized in conjunction with the East Tennessee Natural Gas Homebuilders program, a promotional effort intended to encourage homebuilders to provide natural gas hookups in the homes they build. Investigators could determine no business purpose for utility district employees to travel to Rome three days before a homebuilders’ trip was set to begin, much less accompany the homebuilders on a Mediterranean cruise.
“It is important for utility district officials to remember that the money they receive from customers is still public money,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Therefore, it should be treated as such. Using district funds for personal gain is certainly no way for district officials to endear themselves to their ratepayers.”
To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/Repository/MA/Investigative/oakridgeud.pdf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state of Tennessee is offering credit protection to nearly 2,000 employees who canceled their health or dental insurance after officials mailed out their personal information in October.
Each mailing included a certificate containing the information of the recipient and three other letters aimed at other members of the plan. State officials say 1,770 certificates were mailed to the wrong address.
Each included name, address, employee ID number, healthcare insurance coverage dates and Social Security number, which was not identified as such but appeared at the bottom of each certificate.
The state is offering affected employees a year’s credit protection through Lifelock free for one year. Each has been mailed a letter about the program and has until Dec. 28 to sign up.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he is not going to criticize Gov. Bill Haslam for refusing disclose any information about personal income, though Ramsey had contrasted himself with Haslam on the matter when the two were competing for the 2010 gubernatorial nomination.
Haslam provided summaries of his income from sources other than the family-owned Pilot Corp. during the campaign while Ramsey and other candidates provided reporters with copies of their federal income tax returns. This month, the governor said he will henceforth provide no information whatsoever on the amount of his income, though complying with state law requiring that he list sources of income.
(Previous post HERE)
Ramsey was not available for comment on Haslam’s new stance for an earlier story (Simply forgot to return the call, he said). But was available this week and said that the amount of income Haslam earns really has no bearing on his performance as governor.
“I just don’t see any correlation there,” he said. “Whether he earns $10,000 or $100,000 or $1 million is beside the point.”
The lieutenant governor added that disclosing his income tax returns, which happened to include his best years ever for income from his auctioneer business, “was the hardest thing I did running for governor.”
Still, Ramsey said he would provide more recent returns now if requested by reporters
Gov. Bill Haslam, who drew sharp criticism from his gubernatorial campaign opponents by releasing only limited information on the amount of his personal income, has decided to release no information whatsoever now that he is in office.
Those who criticized him on the campaign trail, however, were either subdued or expressed a change of heart when asked for comment on his more stalwart silence now.
In response to a 2009 request for copies of his federal income tax returns, Haslam responded with a six-year summary showing that he and his wife, Crissy, averaged about $4.75 million in annual income over the period, ending with tax year 2008.
The summary excluded income from Pilot Corp., now Pilot Flying J, with Haslam saying such a disclosure could inappropriately reveal income of family members and potentially impact the business. But the summary did show not only annual non-Pilot income, but also that the Haslams paid an average of just over $622,000 in federal taxes annually, about $100,000 annually in state taxes, and that they gave about $689,000 per year to charity.
In response to a recent request for similar information on his 2009 and 2010 income, the governor replied with a firm no, relayed by Alexia Poe, his communications director.
“We just don’t see the public good in ongoing stories about his income,” Poe said. “The sources of his income are known. He has complied with the law.
“What impact does the amount of his income have on his being governor?” she said.
Haslam declined to be interviewed on the subject, but sent the following comment via email:
“This is a topic that has been well reported and discussed over the past several years. As governor, I’ve done what I said I would do in the campaign. My holdings are in a blind trust — excluding Pilot stock, which everyone knows I own — and all required financial information will continue to be available to the public in annual disclosures.”