Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 8, 2007 Conflicts of Interest & County Election Commissions

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.


Commissioner Joe Swann said...

Linda: I would like to correct your erroneousness statement you made in your blog that Judy "Swann" Blackburn is a sister to Commissioner Joe Swann (myself!). You are wrong again! Judy Blackburn is Judy "Helton" Blackburn and is no relation whatsoever to myself. She is the sister to Alice "Helton" Swann who is married to Bill Swann the brother of Joe Swann(myself). Bill and Alice Swann have a son Joe Swann (not myself) who lives in North Carolina and he has a young son named Joe Swann. Also, Joe Swann is Mayor of Maryville. He is not related to the "Morristown Swann's" or to Judy Blackburn. Now you know the whole TRUTH. As with the national media you need to check your sources and quit spreading what some would consider "half-truths".

Joe Swann said...

Well Linda:

An excellent job of "spin"! I assume you won't post my comment. Is that why there are no other comments posted to any of your blogs listed on your site.


Linda said...


Your comments are here now. I had 3 other signed comments come in yesterday and I posted them this morning, too.

Glad to see that you had the courage to sign your name.

BTW, you are wrong when you say that there are no other comments on my other blog posts. [I don't consider your statement to be a "half-truth," though, and I don't expect a correction from you. We all make mistakes, don't we?]

Comments are only posted if the person identifies him/herself (or lets me know who they are and why they must remain anonymous---for example, a threat to a job or business or political retaliation). See my Dec. 31, 2006 post.

You evidently didn't go back far enough to see previous comments, including some anonymous ones from long ago before I started a comment policy.

Or maybe you know about all the "anonymous" comments that are sitting unposted in my comment file because they were sent in by one or more chickens who hide behind a mouse using the brilliant description "anonymouse." [That's a pun.]

With your CPA license, I hope the taxpaying public can count on you to pay attention to the county financial reports and other information that you are given.

I hope you've been checking out the information that you've been given so far.