Friday, March 07, 2008

TN Center for Policy Research files Ethics Complaints

Drew Johnson and the Tennessee Center for Policy Research are again acting to protect the interests of Tennessee Citizens. Several months ago they filed a complaint against Senator Cooper regarding his illegal use of more than $100,000 of campaign contributions for personal expenses.

Now, they are calling attention to the fact that over 1,000 local elected officials have failed to file a disclosure form by filing ethics complaints against eight of these local officials. Every TN citizen owes a debt of gratitude to Drew and TCPR.


From Memphis to Mountain City, More than 1,200 Public Officials Fail to File with Ethics Board
Tennessee Center for Policy Research President files complaints against a cross-section of local leaders

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson today filed ethics complaints against eight local public officials who failed to file required financial disclosure statements intended to expose potential conflicts of interest.

Johnson filed the complaints with the Tennessee Ethics Commission in order to send a message to the hundreds of others who have failed to file. According to the Commission, more than 1,200 local officials, including mayors, sheriffs and commissioners, have not yet submitted financial disclosure statements.

“These eight are just the beginning. We will continue file charges until every local official in the state is transparent and open with their constituents about possible conflicts of interest,” said Johnson.

State law requires that public officials disclose, in general, where they get their income, what investments they hold and any major loans they have outstanding. This information allows the public to determine if conflicts of interest may impact votes and decisions made by local elected officials.

These disclosure rules came in the wake of the Operation Tennessee Waltz, a 2005 FBI sting leading to the arrest and conviction of a nearly a dozen state and local officials on various bribery and corruption charges. Fines for failing to file the disclosure statements can be, in extreme cases, as high as $10,000.

All local elected officials, candidates and appointees must file a disclosure each year by January 31. This year, the Ethics Commission extended the deadline to February 15 after a problem with the Commission’s electronic filing system.

“It’s now nearly three weeks past the extended deadline,” Johnson said. “Local officials have had ample time to file their disclosure statements. Now the public must begin to wonder if officials who have not yet filed have something to hide.”

Johnson has filed complaints against:

  • Gregory Beck
    Commissioner, Hamilton County

  • Charles “Pepper” Bray
    Councilman, Jackson City Council

  • Henri Brooks
    Commissioner, Shelby County

  • John Brookshire
    Commissioner, Johnson County Commission

  • Beverly Burger
    Alderman, Franklin

  • Ronnie Erwin
    Mayor, La Vergne

  • Jimmy Jones
    Sheriff, Knox County

  • Michael Surgenor
    Commissioner, Sullivan County Commission