NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s repeated self-dealing and government handouts to wealthy friends has prompted Democrats to renew a challenge to the governor to release his tax returns.
“With Haslam’s wealthy and well-connected friends lining up for multi-million dollar handouts from the governor’s office, Tennesseans have a right to know if Haslam is profiting from this double-dealing, too,” said Brandon Puttbrese, spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party. “It’s time for Gov. Haslam to stop hiding his tax returns and prove he has no conflict of interest in these no-bid contracts and huge handouts for his rich friends.”
In recent days, news agencies have reported multiple state contracts and inside deals that financially benefit Haslam’s friends and well-connected special interests. They include:
- A top political adviser to the governor, on Haslam’s personal payroll, was given high-level access to government officials for his clients. [NewsChannel5.com, 7/8/13]
- A current board member and part-owner of Pilot being appointed by the governor as the interim president of University of Memphis. [MemphisFlyer, 6/4/13]
- Another Pilot board member running the parent company of a mining firm that wants to extract coal from public land in Tennessee. [AP, 6/26/13]
- A $38 million deal to manage state buildings and lease negotiations with a commercial real estate firm Haslam once listed as one of his major investments. [NewsChannel5.com, 6/26/13]
- A no-bid contract to outsource the state motor vehicle fleet — at a greater cost to taxpayers — to a well-connected rental car company. [NewsChannel5.com, 5/13/13]
“Working and middle class families need a leader who looks out for regular Tennesseans and proves it with their policies — not a self-serving politician who only looks out for himself and their wealthy friends and then tries to mislead us about it,” Puttbrese said.
The Tennessee Democratic Party is collecting signatures on a petition hosted at TNDP.org calling for Gov. Haslam to release his tax returns.