NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
You trust them with your tax dollars and to make important decisions, but some current and former Tennessee politicians owe the state thousands of dollars in unpaid citations.
The citations stem from filing paperwork late or not at all.
News 2 requested the list from the state and crunched the numbers and found, all together, the state is owed nearly $950,000.
About $380,000 of that comes from our region, which includes current and former office holders, candidates for office and lobbyists.
Drew Rawlins, executive director with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said anyone in office or running for office has to report their personal finances or statement of interest and any campaign contributions.
“The goal is to just get the reports in. The goal is not to access civil penalties,” Rawlins said.
Randy Linville, a Trousdale County school board member and sheriff’s deputy, owes $20,100. That’s the most money owed by any current official in our area.
He told News 2’s over the phone that he didn’t know anything about it and that he needed to make a phone call to find out.
That was more than two weeks ago and the state still hasn’t heard from him.
News 2 tried to contact every current local official on the list and didn’t hear back from any of them.
Rawlins said the forms are important because the state needs to make sure elected officials don’t vote on matters with a personal financial gain or spend campaign money inappropriately, like former State Senator John Ford from Memphis.
Rawlins said Ford used campaign money to pay for his daughter’s wedding.
He said most people do file their paperwork, and most are honest, but just get behind.
“I think most of it is people are unorganized. They forget to do it,” Rawlins said.
Larry Drolsum, former Williamson County public defender, is also on the list.
He’s no longer in office, but owes the most, $40,350, from citations dating back to 2006.
News 2’s contacted Drolsum by text message. In the messages he explained that he was going through some medical issues at the time, and wrote a letter to the ethics commission to explain his situation.
Rawlins said they did receive the letter and explained to him that he would need to turn in the forms and then ask for a reconsideration of the citations. He said Drolsum never responded.
“I think it's somewhat of a reflection on people if they don't file the necessary paperwork. It's similar to, if you don't file your income taxes,” Rawlins said.
He said they send several notices, including certified mail, and they always get a chance to appeal.
As for the citations, they’re personal citations, meaning they money has to come out of their own pockets.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the state has the option to file a lawsuit and send the bill to collections. However, that hasn’t happened yet for Drolsum or Linville.