Bredesen Backs Farr; Partisanship Driving Investigations Into Revenue Department Tax Collections, GOP Says

Former Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr may be under scrutiny by state and federal law enforcement agencies, but Gov. Phil Bredesen expressed unequivocal confidence that the man he appointed in 2007 to be the state’s chief tax collector has done nothing improper.

Bredesen, a Democrat, said he believes neither Farr nor his department underlings acted inappropriately when they decided to confidentially settle a sales-tax collections dispute with a Carthage-based furniture store chain, D.T. McCall & Sons.

The McCalls are politically active Republicans whom Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Thursday may have “breached the public’s trust by failing to report revenues they collected on behalf of the state.”

After speaking at a Nashville business breakfast at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Bredesen said he is confident any of the agreements and settlements the agency reached with Tennessee businesses in tax disputes were appropriate, responsible and well within Farr’s discretion as director of the Department of Revenue.

“Commissioners of revenue — it’s their job to make calls just like this all the time. And I’m sure if you went back over 100 of them, anybody could find one…(in which) somebody could have made the call the other way,” Bredesen said.

“I don’t have any hesitation in saying I am absolutely positive (Farr) has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Bredesen continued.

Republicans on Thursday suggested the push for an investigation by Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson and 15th Judicial District Attorney General Tommy Thompson is politically motivated.

“What is telling is that this controversy seems to have been drummed up by the Democrats just days before an election they know isn’t going to end in their favor,” TNGOP director Chris Devaney told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “It also needs to be pointed out that a central figure in this controversy is Attorney General Tommy Thompson — a significant Democrat donor.”

Thompson, wrote Free Press statehouse reporter Andy Sher, denied that partisan considerations had anything to do with his request.