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McWherter Press Conference Release on Haslam Family Business Interests

Press Release from Mike McWherter for Governor Campaign, Sept. 21, 2010: McWherter Implores Haslam To Have Honest Conversation with Voters As Conflicts Accumulate, Knoxville Mayor Has No Choice But to Disclose

NASHVILLE – At a press conference today in downtown Nashville, Jackson businessman and Democratic gubernatorial nominee called on opponent Bill Haslam to publicly disclose his finances and have an honest conversation with the voters of Tennesseee.

The move comes as documents were recently uncovered linking CVC Capital, ½ owner of Pilot Travel Centers, to business dealings in the Middle East and raising eyebrows concerning Bill Haslam’s conflicts of interest.

“CVC has major ownership stakes in companies that are doing business with countries including Iran, Libya, Syria and others,” said Mike McWherter. “One example is the German company Evonik which is actively involved in the development of chemicals and energy sources, including nuclear power. And they have offices in Tehran.

In 2008, Pilot Travel sold 47.5% of its company and entered into an equal-governance partnership with CVC Capital, a Luxembourg-based private equity firm. In the same year, CVC Capital purchased a 25% stake in Evonik. Evonik and its predecessor, Degussa, helped countries like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea develop their weapons and nuclear programs.

“Nearly half of Pilot’s interests are foreign-owned, and at least one of those foreign companies is doing business with Iran–a rogue nation that is developing nuclear weapons and poses a threat to our national security,” said McWherter.

Throughout the primary election, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam was repeatedly asked to disclose his personal finances in order to ensure Tennessee’s highest political office remain open and transparent. However, in a deliberate attempt to deceive Tennessee voters, Haslam has refused to disclose his personal finances and avoided discussing the particulars of his business interests.

“Does Haslam just expect the people of Tennessee to just trust him when he says his business dealings pose no conflict of interest as governor? That’s ridiculous,” said Mike McWherter. “This is about an open and honest discussion with the voters of Tennessee – this is about the character of a man who seeks our state’s highest office. The people of Tennessee deserve an answer.”

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