Knox County

Former Sen. Campfield, former Sheriff Hutchinson seeking state House seat

Stacey Campfield, one of the state’s more controversial legislators before losing a bid for reelection to the Senate in 2014, is one of five Republicans picking up a qualifying petition to run for the state House District 89 seat that is being vacated by Rep. Roger Kane (R-Knoxville), according to the Knox County Election Commission. Another is former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchinson.

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Knox County mayor candidate arrested in California

Knox County mayoral candidate Rhonda “Mousie” Gallman is being held in a California jail on $100,000 bond after being arrested as arrested in Los Angeles on charges of preventing a witness from testifying in court, reports the News Sentinel.

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Convicted former Knox trustee briefly jailed for failing to pay restitution

Former Knox County Trustee Mike Lowe was arrested Tuesday on a probation violation charge for falling behind — to the tune of $13,450 — in paying restitution to county coffers for his admitted thievery, reports the News Sentinel. He was released from jail after posting a bond of $13,450.

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FBI agents asking questions about Knox County Mayor Burchett

FBI agents have interviewed at least four people, asking questions about Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat, according to the News Sentinel. The people interviewed said FBI agents asked about issues ranging from possible tax evasion to potential bribery and a county contract.

When reached Thursday, Burchett said, “No truth to any of it.”

The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee obtained a copy of a document drafted by an attorney that states Burchett’s ex-wife, Allison, was a confidential informant for the FBI, with the code name “Carbon,” since 2012.

Allison Burchett said she began working with the FBI in 2012 but declined further comment.

“I’m sorry I cannot comment on an ongoing FBI investigation,” she said.

The three other sources requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Federal investigators conducted several interviews this year, including as recently as October, sources said. The interviews were conducted in various locations, including the FBI’s Knoxville headquarters.

One source said an IRS agent also has been involved in the inquiry.

… “I’m not sure what they’re charging, but it’s coming pretty soon,” one source said. “This is very, very serious. It’ll blow Knoxville wide open.”

UPDATE: Burchett responded “defiantly” to the article a day later, reported the News Sentinel and other Gannet newspapers. Excerpted quote:

“I’ve never been contacted by the FBI concerning any of this stuff. I really don’t think there’s any such inquiry… To have a major news story based upon my convicted ex-wife and unnamed sources and for this to be treated as legitimate news, to me is beyond belief,”

Burchett offered check (declined) and apology (accepted) after Saudi teen’s attack

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a candidate for the 2nd Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, was one of several motorists who came under attack from a Saudi Arabian citizen who recently enrolled at the University of Tennessee to study nursing, reports the News Sentinel. The youth’s lawyer says he suffered “an unexpected mental breakdown” in the episode, which warrants say involved pounding on cars and grabbing at the drivers as they passed him on a street near the UT Knoxville campus.

“Did they screen this guy at all for mental health issues?” Burchett said Friday of 19-year-old Nofl Hassan Alatyah. “I’m not getting any answers, and I’m very frustrated.”

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More talk on TNGOP change of rules for running as a Republican

A recent change in state Republican Party bylaws drew criticism at a meeting of the Knox County GOP Monday evening, but state Republican Chairman Scott Golden and Julia Hurley,  a member of the State Executive Committee were on hand to defend it and suggest its impact will be limited, reports the News Sentinel.

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Haslam family gives Knox County schools $1.3M (half for high school bands)

The Haslam family, through Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation, is giving $1.3 million to Knox County Schools’ marching bands and academics, reports the News Sentinel.

“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” Pilot Flying J Director of Giving Back Will Haslam said in the announcement. “When we think of school pride, we think of the marching bands and their dedication.”

An equal portion of the money will go to each of the district’s 13 high schools, pending acceptance Sept. 13 by the Knox County Schools Board of Education.

… Half of the $1.3 million, coming from Pilot Flying J, will buy band uniforms, instruments or other equipment, according to a news release. The other half, coming from the Haslam Family Foundation, will give $50,000 to each high school for “materials or activities that will enhance the academic experience and outcomes for students,” the announcement said.

… This donation follows a 2015 pledge of $10 million for artificial turf football fields at all 13 high schools, with construction running through 2018. That gift included $100,000 to each school for classroom improvements.

Burchett schedules political announcement — likely that he’ll run for 2nd Congressional District seat

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a former state senator, is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the 2nd congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. next weekend. He’s scheduled an event in Knoxville Saturday to declare his future political plans, reports the News Sentinel.

“From my family’s military service, to my parents’ careers as public educators, I was raised around public service, and it’s something I enjoy,” Burchett said in a news release Monday. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work in the state Legislature and as Knox County mayor, and I am excited about what lies ahead for me and my family as we launch this campaign.”

Duncan, who has held the seat since 1988, has not yet announced whether he will seek another term.

Mayors clash over Bible-quoting plaque at Knoxville police headquarters

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero are at odds over a city decision to take down a plaque quoting a Bible verse that now hangs inside a Knoxville police department building.

From the News Sentinel report:

Burchett, a Republican, made the comments in a rare public critique of Rogero, a Democrat, Thursday morning, a day after she announced the city would remove the plaque hanging in the department’s Safety Building.

The plaque quotes Romans 8:31 and includes, “If God be for us, then who can be against us?”

The city is planning to take down the plaque during a Friday morning ceremony and move it to a Hall of Inspiration inside the building that will be a place where multiple quotes and sayings will be displayed.

The East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint about the plaque and threatened a lawsuit if the city did not remove it.

Burchett said the Constitution protects his Christian views, adding the city should allow the group to take them to court.

“Mayor Rogero is my friend, but I would fight this one. I wouldn’t yield to extortionists,” he said. “Ultimately, I have to answer to God not some outfit from out of town who make their living just suing people … “What I don’t understand is with atheists if they don’t believe in God, what do they care? It just doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.

“At some point folks that follow my belief systems are just going to be legislated out of existence and to me it is discrimination against me and my beliefs,” he said.

… Rogero issued a statement in response to Burchett’s comments Thursday afternoon.

“I’m happy to clear up some misunderstanding and overreaction to this issue. My friend Mayor Burchett will be glad to know the plaque is not being removed, it is merely being moved from one side of the doorway to the other, where it will share a room with other inspirational quotes,” Rogero said in the statement.

Note: Burchett, a former state senator, is considering a run for the 2nd District Congressional seat now held by Rep. John J. ‘Jimmy’ Duncan Jr.

Knox County approved for enforcing fed immigration laws through 287(g) program

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has approved Knox County’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program, reports the News Sentinel.

The two bodies signed a memorandum of agreement earlier this month that dictates the Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s responsibilities in training and allowing a certain number of local deputies to be acting ICE agents. It makes Knox County the only jurisdiction in the state participating in this federal program.

The program deputizes local law enforcement officials to act on behalf of and in place of federal immigration authorities in exchange for training and funding.

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