Conflicts of interest continue to be a hot topic in the Tennessee Legislature. See yesterday's post.
Addressing possible conflicts of interest on state and county election commissions is the subject of HB 1442.
Partisan participation by election commissioners in Hamilton County created a push for this new law. [Apparently some members of the local election commission took an active part in supporting specific candidates while at the same time serving on the election commission and directing the conduct of the election]
Rep. Gerald McCormick recently obtained a state attorney general's opinion that the proposal to prohibit certain partisan political activities by election commissioners would be constitutional.
Keep in mind that attorney general's opinions are not law. For example, a state AG's opinion back around 1995 said that Knox County's term limits were unconstitutional. When this opinion was tested in court in 2006, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that Knox County's term limits were constitutional and that they applied to county commissioners and constitutional officers (Register of Deeds, Trustee, County Clerk, & Sheriff) as well.
The present five-member Hamblen County Election Commission:
1. Dwaine Evans, Democrat, serves as Chairman of the Election Commission.
2. Gayle Bruce, Democrat, had a son (Ricky) running for County Commission in August 2006.
3. Randall Johnson, Democrat, actively promoted the election of Paul Lebel to the Hamblen County Commission in August 2006 and is the father of Morristown Mayor Gary Johnson who is running again in 2007.
4. Judy Swann Blackburn, Republican, had a brother (Joe Swann) running for the Hamblen County Commission in August 2006. (See UPDATE for correction)
5. Lyle Doty, Republican, is a former Hamblen County Commissioner.
UPDATE: Judy Blackburn is Judy "Helton" Blackburn. Judy Blackburn is Alice Helton Swann's sister. Alice Helton Swann is Commissioner Joe Swann's sister-in-law. Alice Swann (Judy Blackburn's sister) is the wife of Morristown Utility System manager Bill Swann. Bill Swann is Joe Swann's brother.
I received the above correction from Commissioner Joe Swann this afternoon. When there are so many connections in local political relationships, it's like a very tangled web of yarn. Sometimes it's hard to pull the right string.
I always try to get things straight, but I'm happy to run a correction when there's a mistake! Thank you, Joe, for pulling the correct string out of the pile for me.