Click here for yet another in the continuing series of Tennessee Attorney General's opinions on deputies covered under Civil Service running for sheriff.
Although the opinion was requested by Rep. Chad Faulkner, several of the questions very closely mirror many of the situations in the Hamblen County Sheriff's race. According to the state attorney general, several deputies running for sheriff should have been dismissed from the sheriff's department after they announced their candidacies rather than being allowed to run while on leave without pay.
1. AG: If a deputy is covered under the Sheriff's Civil Service Act, he can not run for sheriff.
2. AG: If a deputy sheriff is covered by the civil service act in his county of employment, he can not run for sheriff in another county--even in a non-partisan election--because announcing his candidacy would be an endorsement of a candidate.
3. AG: A deputy covered under the civil service act can not solicit money for a political campaign (apparently, even his own) under any circumstances.
4. AG: A deputy who is covered under the civil service act and who is dismissed for violation of that act (e.g. for announcing his candidacy for a partisan race or for soliciting money for his campaign or that of others) has no cause of action for being fired or dismissed for violation of the statute.
Hamblen County Attorney Rusty Cantwell was going to ask for an AG's opinion at one time--presumably to ask these and/or similar questions. Click here. Too late now. The attorney general keeps saying the same thing over and over. The attorney general's opinion is clear.
But....an attorney general's opinion is just an "opinion." The ball has been tossed back into Hamblen County's court, the clock is ticking, and pretty soon the buzzer goes off.
Where does the State or Local Election Commission stand on this? What does Hamblen County Attorney/Hamblen County Ethics Officer Rusty Cantwell say?