It's been another interesting week for Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron. And now the son of Property Assessor Rob Mitchell has been thrown into the mix.
What's going on here?
According to Scott Broden, Brittany Stevens settled her defamation suit against Tony Sees, the man who filed an ethics complaint based on her LinkedIn page.
The settlement absolves all parties of wrongdoing and Stevens even agreed to pay for the legal fees associated with the suit as long as Sees withdraws the complaint.
The settlement comes after Robert Stevens, brother to Brittany and Ketron's opposition on the County Commission, said 120 pages of evidence had been filed in the case, the most damning of which came from a handwriting expert. The handwriting evidence testified that the ethics complaint was authored by Andrew Mitchell, Rob Mitchell's son, and was distributed through anonymous emails (I even received one).
"There are still many unanswered questions about the origin of the complaint, and we do intend to further investigate those matters," Robert Stevens told the DNJ.
And there are going to be even more unanswered questions after Thursday night's County Commission meeting.
During the Public Comment period, local attorney Brad Hornsby plans to read the following public statement. I doubt he'll get the answers he seeks, if he gets any at all.
But I will be waiting patiently for our mayor to address any of the allegations surrounding him.
Hornsby's Public Statement
I came to ask some legitimate questions for our County Mayor, "Mr. Transparency," his words, not mine. I believe these are legitimate questions the taxpayers have a right to know. Mayor Ketron works for us, not the other way around. He should be held accountable. If he will not answer my questions, maybe the Commission should ask these questions and take appropriate action.
1. It has been alleged that you forced out numerous older employees in EMS. Did you threaten to fire them, and if so why? I wonder how much the county may have to pay on these lawsuits.
2. Have you made similar threats against any other incumbent employees over the age of 50 or females to get them to resign? We may have even more lawsuits coming.
3. As for the recent hiring of Steve Ervin, what criteria did you use to hire him over females with degrees, experience, and impeccable records? I know he is a commissioner, but this decision seems incestuous and I wonder how much we are going to pay for that lawsuit?
4. Did you do any independent investigation when Steve Ervin subsequently fired the person who applied for his job?
5. Did you ask Commissioner Ervin to resign given his employment by the County?
6. As for a recent complaint against Brittany Stevens and Robert Stevens, I would like to know if you had anything to do with besmirching an elected official and having what appears to be a frivolous complaint filed against her? A forensic handwriting expert has determined that Rob Mitchell's son partially prepared the complaint. Rob Mitchell was shortly thereafter apparently in possession of the complaint and forwarding it to others. As commissioners, it should concern you that our County Mayor and other elected officials might be behind complaints against a fellow commissioner because one had the "audacity" to ask similar questions. An interesting anecdote is that at the October meeting, Mayor Ketron opposed Rob Mitchell's request for a new software program alleging OIT could do the job. After all this occurred, he did a 180 and is now agreeing to said request. Interesting change of position.
7. Did you personally sign any forms seeking double reimbursement from your campaign funds and the State of Tennessee after which you got paid twice for the same expenditure and did not reimburse one until after you were caught? I can only come to one of three conclusions, he improperly took the money, is incompetent, or too busy. In any event, I really question whether he should be handling the county's money.
8. Did you not receive numerous notices from the election commission that your reports were overdue?
9. Did you improperly use your state campaign funds for your run for County Mayor or personal gain?
10. Did you have any discussions with Tom Lawless or anyone else, either directly or indirectly, to try to get the civil penalties against you dismissed without a hearing and after you were assessed the penalty and the time to appeal had expired?
11. Are you going to honor the request of the Registry of Election Finance to turn over your credit card statements and your bank account statements, both personal and business? Will you make public these statements?
12. When did you discover that your daughter, who was running your business, and placed there by you, did not have an insurance license?
13. When did you first find out your daughter was allegedly stealing from your business?
14. When did you really stop working at your insurance company?
15. Was any money that was allegedly stolen by your daughter placed into your insurance company account and did you withdraw any money from said account? Are you willing to open the books of your agency for the people to know you did not withdraw what could have been stolen funds?
16. When did you first find out your daughter was allegedly taking money from customers for insurance and not putting any insurance into effect?
17. How many incidents were you aware of before the indictment?
18. How many are you aware of today? Are you not concerned and investigating your company getting paid for insurance, not putting it in effect so you can attempt to address these potential issues?
19. Did you read the deposition of your daughter where she purportedly made numerous false statements?
20. Who paid Neal and Harwell for the representation of your daughter and where was the source of the money? I have no problem with him getting a fine attorney or attorneys for his daughter, but it would concern me if he had someone else paid for those attorneys.
21. When did you first find out your daughter was allegedly stealing from your campaign fund?
22. Do you intend to reimburse your campaign fund account for the alleged theft by your daughter along with any other victims as you were the one who put your daughter into that position?
23. Finally, as I anticipate you will not answer any of these questions, I would like to know if you would do the honorable thing and resign?
Mr. Ketron was elected to represent us and is accountable to us. I would suggest these questions are very pertinent as to whether he should continue to serve us the taxpayers of Rutherford County. Similar questions were asked in the Sunday DNJ paper. The only thing we have heard is the sound of silence.
As a father, I can understand his allegiance to his daughter. But that allegiance has taken second fiddle to the one he owes us as taxpayers who elected him. Based upon said conflict, a resignation is probably appropriate. He can take care of his family business and his daughter who probably really needs his support at this time.
Unfortunately, it was not that long ago when we had a rogue Sheriff and the Commission and District Attorney General did nothing. We were bombarded with negative news stories. Unfortunately, the similarity to today is eerie.
I have heard the words "quid pro quo" and "drain the swamp" being thrown around in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, it might be applying as much locally as it is in Washington D.C. I suggest the County Commissioners along with the District Attorney General need to investigate this matter immediately, ask these questions and more, and determine if removal is appropriate if he chooses not to resign or give legitimate answers.