Former legislator loses current job after accessing confidential records for political smear

Former state Rep. Chad Faulkner (R-Luttrell) as resigned his position with the Loudon County Sheriff’s office after being confronted with evidence he accessed confidential records used as part of a political smear campaign against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s congressional campaign, reports the News Sentinel.

Faulkner, who lost a 2010 bid for reelection to Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) in House District 36, was working as a jailer under Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider when he was linked to the release of records a judge had ordered expunged.

Those records — which involved Burchett’s stepson — were publicly disseminated earlier this year via a batch of anonymous emails sent to Knox County commissioners and the media as part of an ongoing political smear campaign against Burchett, who is vying for the 2nd Congressional District seat in this year’s election.

The same records were included in a complaint filed with the state Comptroller’s Office against Burchett.

Guider said he launched a criminal probe after learning the emails contained Loudon County Sheriff’s Office records that had been ordered expunged. The sheriff said an investigation by Capt. Jeff Russell and Sgt. Charlie Costner showed the records were accessed from a computer being used by Faulkner and utilizing Faulkner’s identification code.

“We tracked his movements and the times,” the sheriff said.

When confronted, Faulkner insisted someone else might have surreptitiously accessed the records while he had stepped away from his computer, but Guider said he and his investigators weren’t buying it.

“We set up a polygraph,” Guider said. “He initially said he would do it, but the day before he was to do it, he resigned.”

Releasing records that were supposed to be destroyed, redacted or erased pursuant to a judge’s order in judicial diversion cases is a Class A misdemeanor. Citizens granted an expungement pay $350 for the enforcement of a judge’s expungement order.

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