Tag Archives: Tim

Gobble Appointment Inspires Ethical Questions

Cari Wade Gervin provides a detailed critique of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble’s appointment of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble by Gov. Bill Haslam to the state Board of Parole under the headline, “Haslam’s New Parole Board Appointee Doesn’t Believe in Separation of Church and State or, Apparently, Ethics.”
An excerpt:
In February, Gobble resigned from his position after a string of malfeasances, including abusing the city’s Facebook page; hiring a 19-year old friend from church he referred to as his “Jedi Knight” as the city’s communications director at $35,000 a year and then, when realizing that the appointment violated city code, deleting the code from the website in the hopes that no one would find out; threatening and suspending a court clerk over a case Gobble’s daughter was involved in; and even using his city credit card to pay for regular trips to Baskin Robbins as a “justifiable business expense.” (The last one we can at least understand — ice cream is pretty necessary to human existence.)
….And it’s true, Gobble does have lots of experience in law enforcement, which is conceivably a good quality for someone tasked with the ability to grant offenders parole. However, it turns out that Gobble wasn’t really good at those jobs either. He was reportedly fired from his position in the Secret Service and forced to resign from his position as director of the Bradley County Emergency Agency for violations of the Hatch Act — i.e., the law that prevents people using their offices to conduct campaign activities on the job. (Similar violations had previously forced him off the Cleveland City Council.)
Then, just before Gobble left his job as Bradley County Sheriff, the jail almost lost its certification with the Tennessee Corrections Institute for overcrowding, mold in the kitchen, and standing water in at least one cell. But all of that was ok with Gobble, we guess, because it seems his main concern with running a prison wasn’t maintaining it but rather bringing prisoners to Jesus. In a rather long essay, apparently penned while on the job and then posted to the actual official Bradley County Sheriff’s website, Gobble explains how “Our Christian Heritage” — that’s the essay’s title — is influencing how he runs his jail.

Statesman’s Dinner Raises $470K, Hears ‘Revival-style’ Speech

More than 1,000 turned out for the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesman’s Dinner fundraiser Friday night, according to GOP officials, and about $470,000 was collected for party coffers.
The keynote speech was delivered by freshman U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who called on Tennessee Republicans to help their party capture both chambers of Congress next year in a revival-style stump speech, according to the Tennessean.
Scott, the South Carolina lawmaker who earlier this year became the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction, said in the keynote address to the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner that the GOP can win back the Senate next year and the White House in 2016.
But doing so will require reconnecting with the American people.
“America, they want to know how much we know, but they want to know it after they understand how much we care,” Scott said. “Our ability to achieve success in the Senate, to maintain the House, will be our ability to communicate our message effectively. … This will lead us to the promised land.”
…Tennessee Republicans were urged to set aside differences and campaign for Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is seeking a third term. They also were asked to open their wallets for Scott, who hopes to win statewide in South Carolina for the first time next year after being appointed in January to a vacant seat.
Ranging back and forth on the stage for about 15 minutes, Scott attempted to rouse the crowd with a delivery like a gospel preacher. Much of his address centered on his maturation from a teenager who struggled in school to a business owner — a message that tacitly referenced his historic status without overtly calling attention to his race.
Scott also hit on touchstone Republican positions, calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of school vouchers.
….”We think that Senator Scott kind of embodies the principles of the Republican Party, which include bringing opportunity to everyone,” said (state Republican Chairman Chris) Devaney.

Former Bradley County Sheriff Named to Parole Board

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Tim Gobble of Cleveland to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor.
Gobble’s appointment becomes effective Tuesday, July 16 and the term expires December 31, 2015. (Note: A board member is paid $93,732 per year.)
“Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Haslam said. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important capacity.”
Gobble has been interim deputy chief in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office since May, returning after serving as deputy chief in 2010-2011. He served as city manager of East Ridge from April 2011-February 2013. Gobble was the sheriff of Bradley County from 2006-2010.
He served as director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency from 2004-2006 and was a special agent and supervisor in the United States Secret Service from 1989-2004, serving in Nashville, Houston, Washington D.C. and Chattanooga. He was a police officer in Cleveland from 1988-1989.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Haslam, for whom I have great admiration and respect,” Gobble said. “I look forward to serving and working with Chairman Montgomery, other Parole Board members, Parole Board staff and relevant stakeholders in the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”
Haslam named Richard Montgomery chairman of the Board of Parole on July 1.
Gobble received a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University, in 1986. He and his wife, Christie, have been married 25 years and have two daughters and one son.

Note: The Tennessean adds some background not included in the news release:
The move comes five months after Gobble was removed as the city manager of East Ridge, a Chattanooga suburb, after a tumultuous two years on the job.
Gobble ran into criticism for a decision to hire a member of his church as a personal assistant and for his disciplining of the city’s court clerks in a case involving his daughter.
Gobble was hired almost immediately by Hamilton County and given oversight of the jail. Gobble also has served as sheriff of Bradley County, director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and a special agent and supervisor in the U.S. Secret Service
.

UPDATE: And there’s this from Nooga.com:
Asked how he reconciled his pick with Gobble’s recent experience in East Ridge, Haslam declined to comment on the issue and instead focused on his other roles in public life.
“I mean, I can’t really speak for both sides of that issue,” Haslam said. “But I think from what I’ve seen of Tim, both as Bradley County sheriff, his time in Hamilton County and his federal government Secret Service work, I think he can add to the program.”

Former Lawmaker Recalls Bribe Offer on Landfill Legislation

Excerpt from Stephen Hale’s thorough report on a lawsuit, legislation and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as they relate to a landfill near Camden.
If the Jackson Law didn’t deliver the protection Camden residents hoped, maybe other legislation will. State Rep. Tim Wirgau, whose district includes Camden, is actively trying to slow the landfill permitting process. He’s filed a bill (HB952) that would amend the Jackson Law by adding a requirement for public notice and a public hearing prior to an increase in a landfill’s classification, or an expansion of the type of waste the landfill is authorized to accept.
Last year, Wirgau sponsored a bill that would have effectively shut down the EWS site. The bill made only one proper appearance in a subcommittee — which was not attended by EWS representatives — and was eventually deferred without ever getting a vote.
His new bill is yet to appear for the first time at the legislature. Wirgau says he’s optimistic, but that his guard is up after support he thought he had in his camp last year vanished. And he’s already heard from the opposition.
“We have heard from some of the larger landfill people with concerns, like, ‘Oh, we’ve already got enough problems so I don’t think we’re going to be on your side on this one,’ ” Wirgau tells the Scene. “My take is on it, look — if you’re a landfill operator and you are doing a good job, and you are working within your communities and all the boundaries, I don’t think any of the locals are going to have a problem with the operation that you’re running right now. But if you’re a bad actor, and not doing things properly, then you’re going to have a tough time getting an expansion or a new permit, especially from the locals.”
One former legislator would no doubt sympathize with Wirgau’s uphill battle. In 1989, Doug Jackson learned about the dirty politics of trash. Then a Tennessee state representative, he proposed the legislation nicknamed for him in response to a large landfill that had been proposed in his Dickson County district.
Suddenly, Jackson remembers, he was a popular man on Capitol Hill — or at least his office was crowded.
“It had lobbyists lined up 20 deep, and all the landfill companies obviously mobilized in opposition,” says Jackson, who left office after his defeat in 2010 and now serves as executive director of The Renaissance Center in Dickson. “And then the Tennessee Municipal League opposed it. The County Governments Association opposed it. It just seemed to have no friends.”
It was the toughest piece of legislation he ever sponsored, he says. He adds that it was notable for another reason: the first and only time in office he was ever offered a bribe.
The day after the bill passed out of the House environment committee, Jackson recalls, a man from South Carolina showed up at his law office without an appointment. He said he was involved with several landfills, Jackson says, including what was then the largest hazardous waste landfill in the country along with the landfill proposed for Jackson’s district. And he had a proposition.
“He said, ‘I’ve made all the money that I could ever hope to spend in my life, this landfill up here is going to be another good one, and I know you’re under pressure. And we’re used to addressing that, the pressures of local officials,’ ” Jackson remembers. “He said, ‘I think we can make this worth your while.’ ”
At that point, Jackson stepped outside and asked his secretary to come into the office and have a seat.
“Now do you want to go ahead and continue this conversation, or do you want to change the subject?” Jackson recalls telling the man.
The man just laughed, Jackson says, and got up to leave saying that he could see they weren’t going to get anywhere. Several years later, after the bill had passed into law, the two crossed paths again. Jackson says the man flagged him down, reminded Jackson who he was, and told him he’d done a “very stupid thing.”
“You would’ve made enough money out of that, you would’ve never had to work another day in your life,” Jackson recalls him saying.

Knox Mayor Burchett Hospitalized With Pneumonia

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.”

Links to Reports on Some Contested Legislative Races

Republican Mark Green unseats Democratic Sen. Tim Barnes in Senate District 22, HERE.
Republican Steve Dickerson defeats Phil North in Senate District 20, HERE.
Democrat Bo Mitchell defeats Charles Williamson in House District 50, HERE
Republican Todd Gardenhire wins Senate District 10, HERE
Kent Williams, the state’s only independent legislator, wins a new term, HERE
Democratic Rep. John Tidwell wins a new term in House District 74, HERE.

Editorial Denounces Registry’s Decision on Burchett

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.

Registry Votes to Take No Action Against Tim Burchett

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.

Burchett Amends Campaign Disclosures, Blames Wife for ‘Deception’

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.

Burchett’s ‘Personal’ Email in Government Account Kept Confidential

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.”