NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Governor Bill Lee says he “does not know anything about” reports there was an offer for a particular vote on his school voucher bill or that the FBI may be interested about how the controversial proposal edged off an initial House vote of being tied.
The bill passed in April, but there have been recent reports of favors offered in exchange for votes.
Just back from a jobs recruiting trip to the West Coast, Governor Lee walked into a flurry of questions Thursday about what happened on that April day during the votes on the measure formally called the Education Savings Accounts bill.
Questions have been raised about whether a favor was offered to Rep. John Mark Windle in exchange for his voucher support, like a promotion to general for his Tennessee National Guard Service where he currently serves as a Lt. Colonel.
House Speaker Glen Casada denies he or those close to him made the offer.
The governor Thursday was asked if he knew anything about any offer to Rep. Windle.
“I don’t know anything about that,” was Lee’s response.
The governor has always indicated he was in communication with lawmakers by phone as the ESA voucher bill hung in the balance.
Those he communicated with included Rep. Windle.
What did Lee say to him?
“Encouragement for him to consider passing that legislation,” said the governor. “I encouraged a lot of legislators that day and the days before.”
The governor went on to say there were no incentives such as road projects offered by him to lawmakers and that he has not spoken to the FBI, who has reportedly been interested in what happened that day in April.
The ESA voucher bill eventually passed that day by a few votes and a few days later by a larger margin in the Senate.
When the program is implemented, kids in underperforming schools in Memphis and Nashville will be given 7300-dollars yearly to attend the school of their choice.