Ethics chair forwards complaint to DA

An ethics complaint discussed at Thursday’s Wilson County Ethics Committee meeting will be sent to the district attorney’s office following the vote Thursday evening.
Apr 5, 2014

An ethics complaint discussed at Thursday’s Wilson County Ethics Committee meeting will be sent to the district attorney’s office following the vote Thursday evening.

The complaint, filed by Harold Huber, of Mt. Juliet, named Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, county attorney Mike Jennings, 17 county commissioners and Jan Jewell, who works in Jennings’ office.

Committee Chairman Frank Bush said he was going to speak with District Attorney Tommy Thompson on Friday about the complaint.

“I’m contacting the DA sometime [Friday] and, depending on what they want, it could be [Friday] or it could be Monday,” Bush said.

At Thursday’s meeting, there was a good deal of discussion on the complaint, which stems from an issue of residency while former commissioners Adam Bannach, Wendell Marlowe and Stephanie McDonald served at different times on the Wilson County Commission. 

“It ultimately boils down to when residency ends,” Ethics Committee member Nathan Claridy said during the meeting. “We have evidence in the complaint that these people stated that they moved and actually left the residence that they got elected from and were residing in a new residence.”

Bush agreed but said he saw the problem depended on “the facts on the ground.”

“Residency is complex in some cases. To me, this is cut and dry. This is your garden-variety suburban family move from one house to another. The law says you have one primary residence, and it goes to where you intend to lay your head at night.

“One of the benefits of looking at this in hindsight is intent is clear in all these parties by their subsequent behavior. The only thing in question is timing,” Bush said.

Committee member Clint Thomas, who was absent from the committee’s December meeting due to a death in the family, said, “I think, rightfully or wrongfully, the whole matter could have been resolved. If I remember correctly, reading in the minutes, it was asked specifically ‘do you live here or do you not,’ and it was not answered. I think the whole thing would have went away if it was answered.”

Thomas also told the committee he had personally gone to the Rutherford County Election Commission to see how they would react to him asking to pull a petition there.

“I went to the Rutherford County Election Commission and I told them my dad just passed away and now the property is in my name, so effectively I own this property. I would like to pull a petition for Rutherford County commissioner for this district. She asked me ‘do you live there,’ I said no, she said ‘well you can’t do it.’

Thomas said he felt it was best “to get it out of our hands, and that way it’s fair. An impartial person will look at it.” 

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