Hamilton County DA appears before commission, keeps funding

District Attorney Neal Pinkston had previously not agreed to be questioned about relatives on his payroll

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / District attorney Neal Pinkston speaks with members of the media during on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd, R-Ashwood, dropped his resolution to cut supplemental funding to the district attorney's office Wednesday after District Attorney Neal Pinkston appeared before the panel to answer questions about potential nepotism within his office.

"It would set unbelievable precedents if we cut funding to a constitutional office. He came and answered questions like we asked," said Commissioner Randy Fairbanks, R-Soddy-Daisy. "The voters are Mr. Pinkston's boss, and so after the facts are put out there, they will decide if he's doing stuff they don't like."

Questions first arose about whether Pinkston was employing relatives during a routine budget hearing in May. At that time, Pinkston said he was not. The Times Free Press later reported that Pinkston married a subordinate, Melydia Clewell, in 2019 and hired her brother, Kerry Clewell, in 2020.