Does this make a Gas Tax Hike more likely? YEP
But tax watchdog Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research says it says something about how the state hands out tens of millions of dollars in consulting contracts.
"Obviously, this person is well-connected through their previous job -- and there's some value in that to this company," Johnson says.
Here's how it works:
When a contract becomes available, TDOT staff -- in this case, Jones' former colleagues -- evaluate and score the firms to see who might be best for the job.
Then, a consultant selection committee meets and comes up with a final list -- in most cases, a list of three -- to recommend to the commissioner. Jones sat as an ex-officio member of that committee when she was at TDOT.
Finally, the commissioner picks the winner, and he doesn't have to give anybody a reason.
Nicely: "I do have quite a bit of latitude, you're right."