NASHVILLE — Chattanooga on Wednesday will become the first stop under a Tennessee campaign finance watchdog's new policy calling for some of its meetings to be held outside the state capital in Nashville.
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, which regulates and enforces laws involving state political candidates' and committees' campaign financial disclosures, contributions and expenditures, will meet at 10 a.m. in a Miller and Martin law firm conference room in the Volunteer Building at 832 Georgia Ave.
Bill Young, executive director of both the Registry and the Tennessee Ethics Commission, said the Registry board "felt it was important to get out to other parts of the state and explain what we do to folks outside Nashville."
Among agenda items is an update of where things stand in the registry's additional subpoenas for its audit of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron's campaign finances. The agency has been looking into three committees belonging to Ketron, a former Tennessee Senate GOP Caucus chairman, his state Senate and mayoral campaign committees, as well as his Quest PAC.
The registry's decision to issue new subpoenas came after Ketron's daughter, Kelsey Ketron, was indicted and charged with more than 70 counts related to insurance fraud at the Ketron family insurance company, Universal International Insurance. She served as her father's treasurer during his campaigns.
Criminal indictments allege Kelsey Ketron took more than $65,000 from the campaign account's political funds, as well as forging insurance documents and taking money from clients.
Young said while the Questar subpoena is "really on track," Ketron's candidate records are a "little harder" because they are "in the hands of law enforcement now."
There is also an executive session of board members that will be closed to the public.
Young, who also serves as the panel's interim attorney, said one of the matters involves former state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, who was expelled by the state House in 2018 over complaints of sexual harassment made by multiple women. A state administrative law judge recently overturned the registry's record-setting award of $465,000 in a lawsuit against Durham over campaign accounts issues, reducing it to $110,000.
Another is a ruling by a Nashville judge in a Williamson County case. It invalidated a state law prohibiting nonpartisan political action committees from making campaign contributions to candidates within 10 days of an election.
With regard to the registry members' decision to hold meetings outside Nashville, Young, who once served as chief administrative officer of the Tennessee Supreme Court, noted the state's justices often hold hearings at regional sites in Knoxville and Jackson.
The process allows Tennesseans who ordinarily don't come to Nashville to watch proceedings.
Moving registry hearings to different areas allows not just citizens but attorneys to observe the process, Young said.
He also noted the registry has "got the capability of streaming these hearings" online. "We've never done it before. I don't know why."
The agency "may very well take advantage of the streaming process" in the future, he said.
Registry members' meeting in Chattanooga will be held in the Volunteer Building's Lookout Mountain Conference Room, Suite 1200, 832 Georgia Ave.
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.
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