Three members of the Tennessee Ethics Commission voted against penalizing veteran political operative Tom Ingram, a lobbyist colleague and a client Wednesday after their lawyers agreed during a hearing to file the paperwork for 2011 registration immediately.
But that was one vote shy of the four votes needed for any action by the commission, which is authorized six members but now has one seat vacant. The vacancy is on a seat to be filled through appointment by Gov. Bill Haslam, who retains Ingram as his top political advisor.
One of the commissioners present, Nashville lawyer John Gregory Hardeman, recused himself from voting, saying he personally knows both Ingram and Marcille Durham, who works with Ingram and also faced a possible civil penalty for failing to register.
Another commissioner, Keith Norman of Memphis, voted against dismissal, saying he was concerned about setting a bad precedent and at least wanted to get more specific information than was presented at the hearing. Norman said he might reconsider and vote for dismissal later.
The upshot was that further action on the case was postponed until the Ethics Commission’s September meeting. No date for that meeting has been set.