The KNS reports today that former County Commissioner Mark Harmon has requested the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance to investigate irregularities in Knox Co. Mayor Tim Burchett's campaign finance disclosures reported by the KNS.

The KNS previously reported that local Democratic Party officials would meet to discuss possible action on the discrepancies reported by the KNS, but then later reported that Burchett had assured party chair Gloria Johnson he would get the matter resolved.

On the Wednesday and Friday before the KNS article was published (around the time the KNS had first contacted campaign officials about the discrepancies) Burchett campaign treasurer Albert Miller filed amended reports listing additional expenditures. Some are listed as "reimbursements" for campaign expenses with no backup (including a $550.45 payment to Burchett's now chief of staff Dean Rice listed as "reimbursement for campaign expenses such as HQ supplies and campaign meals" and others with no notation other than "reimbursement").

According to comments here at KnoxViews by KNS Editorial page/community voices coordinator Scott Barker (we assume it is him although the comment is made under an anonymous unregistered profile), state law requires campaigns to report the names of vendors receiving payment for allowable campaign expenditures, and simply stating "reimbursement" is not allowed.

Anyway, the reporting on this story has been about as sloppy as the campaign bookkeeping. It starts with an anonymous source for the cancelled checks, and both the mayor and his former campaign bookkeeper and wife deny having possession of the records (which the campaign is required to keep for two years after an election). There has been no official statement from the campaign treasurer. Who are they accusing of what? The mayor? His wife?

The articles state that campaign finance law requires checks to be reported on disclosures, which is misleading. Expenditures (i.e. expenses) must be reported, not the method of payment. The KNS reporting conflates the two, creating confusion. The KNS has not said if they asked for receipts or credit card statements to back up the expenditures, or if they matched reported expenditures to bank statements and canceled check amounts to determine if they add up.

The timing is suspicious as well. The revelations were made just weeks before the campaign record retention period expires, and just as the mayor and his wife are concluding a messy divorce involving allegations that his wife said would be revealed at trial if it wasn't settled.

Not knowing who provided KNS with the information or their motivation makes it difficult to judge what is really going on. There are plenty of wild accusations and conspiracy theories, though. One is that the KNS is getting back at Burchett for not going along with the school budget increase they advocated for. Another is that the mayor's ex-wife is trying to damage him politically out of spite or whatever. This is what you get when less than transparent reporting leaves the public to make up their own stories.

If there's any meat to the story, though, it's the expenditures listed with amounts $1000 greater than the checks written to pay for them. The KNS should have led with that and skipped the confusing and misleading stuff used to gin up the story.

It's also puzzling why local or state officials haven't opened any investigations, leaving it to a private citizen to request a formal inquiry. You'd think the state campaign finance regulators would at least have some questions after being contacted by the KNS.

Average Guy's picture

Good summation,

of the story/non-story and the reporting/non-reporting.

Not sure I've ever seen a "news" story framed in such a "who done it" kind of way. At this point I care less where this goes, more that it gets somewhere.

If it goes nowhere, the KTSC can host an Egg and Crow Festival.

Pam Strickland's picture

The reporting is not sloppy

The reporting is not sloppy as you describe. It's straightforward. And I find it interesting that you don't like the reporting, yet never name the reporter-Mike Donila. He's usually the Golden Boy of this site.

As for Barker commenting as an unregistered user. He's said her before that he can never remember his password. He always comments as an unregistered user. It's clear to anyone who regularly communicates w/ him that it's his speech patterns and style. That was an unnecessary swipe.

The law reads that the state authorities could initiate an investigation on its own, but they are not required too. It almost requires that a citizen complaint be filed. I had a lengthy conversation w/ Tom Humphrey about this earlier this week. If a citizen hadn't come forward, it's likely nothing would have happened. And no matter the timing, the questionable checks are just that, so they need to be properly investigated. In truth, I was considering filing a complaint myself.

fischbobber's picture

Pam, you're wrong on this one.

Smart money right now is that whomever leaked this and caused the brouhaha is getting away with it because the press aren't intimate (and I don't mean sexually) with the players involved in this scenario. I doubt Betty Bean could have been sucked into this vortex.

Tim needs to get in front of this. Right now he needs to call for some type of independent investigator that is trustworthy and has no dog in the hunt. Any suggestions?

Right now, all we have is this...

Bbeanster's picture

Thanks for the hat tip,

Thanks for the hat tip, Fisch, but I'd have to stay out of this one because of personal relationships.
I'm in an odd position -- Burchett is a longtime friend going back to my Journal days. I helped with his campaign against Hutchison, so I did not cover it (Larry Van Guilder and Sandra Clark did that, and very ably).
Tim and I do not see eye-to-eye politically, most of the time, and on many occasions since he's been mayor, I've wanted to pinch his head off. But I do not believe that he would ever be involved in any kind of financial hanky-panky.
And Allison? I'll say this much -- I know through conversations with other reporters that she's been shopping negative stories about him to various media outlets for some time. For a long time, nobody bit.
Her tweets speak for themselves.

fischbobber's picture

Personal experience

Our relationships with Tim and experiences with Allison sound eerily similar.

Pam Strickland's picture

Betty is good, but she's not

Betty is good, but she's not perfect. Who knows what might happen given other circumstances. We'll never know because she is ethical.

Still no word on why the trashing is of the paper, but not of the Golden Boy Donila. I think he's written a good set of stories. Just can't figure out why y'all are blaming what you see as problems on the big, bad generic KNS.

And for what it's worth, news and editorial really are separate, news doesn't care that editorial had a disagreement w/ Tim. They just report. Y'all are too in love w/ conspiracies.

I gotta go so an ortho doc about my bad knee. Later.

fischbobber's picture

Trashing of the paper

Dear Pam,

Some of us locals are concerned that you might not understand what is going on here. We didn't move away and had to learn to co-exist in an integrated society. We stayed here. This was, is and will be home for us. I was raised to treat Republicans as equals despite our obvious differences. Just because one is republican, or a different race, or autistic or any other difference of human condition does not make them any less human.

I've known Tim since the 1982 World's Fair. It was a grand celebration and part of my job was to walk Tim around in the Pac-Man costume. At first I thought he had the best job at the fair, but I quickly realized that the one I had was better. I fought off ill mannered children that would punch, kick and abuse this young man for no reason other than he was dressed as Pac-Man. The costume was heavy and had no ventilation or eyeholes. It was hot walking around on the asphalt and I can remember lobbying for more break time because I literally feared he would pass out or die from the heat. He couldn't have weighed 140 pounds soaking wet and soaked with sweat is the only way I knew him. He never quit the worst job on site. He was the toughest kid I ever met, but had I not seen it, I would never have believed it.

We've maintained a relationship for thirty years. We've socialized, he's played golf with my son in an adult/child tournament, when I was hurt and could not find anyone else. He showed up on my radio show despite a last minute offer by someone generally regarded as a bigger name in the biz. We argued about the politics we disagreed about and laughed about life's foibles that we shared as common ground. I've dined with him and Allison. And I'm going to tell you something. This is bullshit.

Tim is not beyond making a mistake, but if Allison is the source, what we really have here is someone confessing to a felony and trying to pass it off/on as a civil charge on her estranged husband.

Read the last sentence over again. Slowly.

As I've said, it's the Sentinel's function to sell papers. Reporting the news is really so seventies, you know? As this situation begins to come together, it is impossible to ignore the possibility that Tim's political enemies have bonded with the source. In fact, it almost seems probable, but that still doesn't make Tim not turning his wife in for writing checks behind his back news. Believe it or not, Tim isn't the only husband in this town who has ever dealt with that situation. Nor would he be the first to let it ride and try to fix his marriage. I don't know if that's how things went down, but just sayin, you know?

Finally, there's this, the answer to your question. Donilla is doing his job. Knowing what goes on in the City/County building and understanding and ascertaining the subtle realities of a situation ain't a job for folks not around here. That's why the Sentinel ought to be falling all over themselves to hire Betty. 100 grand? Pay it. She's worth it. What you see in this town's media is what corporate churning gets you. Substandard reporting by people with a few facts that don't know how to put them together.

Clearly someone is pulling a hatchet job on Tim. The Sentinel is within their constitutional right to participate, but at this time, and feel free to prove me wrong, it looks like they have abdicated their moral position to keep an informed populace. It would appear that our local paper has put our county mayor in a position of deciding whether or not he should have his estranged wife thrown in jail. I have a hard time believing this is , in any way, beneficial to the community or the parties involved.

Anyhooo you're entitled to your position. I just find it odd the best source for news in this town is a little old obscure progressive blog and that everybody, it seems, who is anybody around here seems to get that.



Average Guy's picture

Three options as I read it:

Three options as I read it:

One - Tim Burchett was not honest with voters
Two - Allison Burchett was not honest with Tim Burchett
Three - on some level, both the above apply

After four news articles and an editorial, I have no clue as to which of the three apply.

R. Neal's picture

That was an unnecessary

That was an unnecessary swipe.

No, it's a necessary disclaimer. I can't verify it is Scott Barker, although I'm pretty sure it is. If I attribute it to him without being able to verify it and it was actually an impostor, Scott would be pretty pissed I imagine.

R. Neal's picture


We are told by a reliable source that Allison Burchett leaked the info to the KNS using online bank statements and check copies.

fischbobber's picture


If that's the case, then she is treading on thin ice. Tim has been struggling with her integrity level as it relates to public trust and voter accountability for years. He may come out scott free after all.

barker's picture


You're told by an ANONYMOUS source? Ha! That's rich, given the emphasis everyone has put on the source of the documentation (the legitimacy of which, by the way, has not been challenged by either Tim or Allison Burchett).

Oh, and, yes, I'm the Scott Barker who is the editorial page editor of the News Sentinel. And yes, I'd be hostile if someone posed as me to make comments. That said, I can't imagine why anyone would pose as me. I'm apparently one of the most reviled journalists in town.

fischbobber's picture

The point here

The point here Scott is that we locals have known Tim for years and many of us have met Allison. One doesn't abandon one's friends because they are involved with a person whom, on the surface anyway, doesn't seem to fit.

No one wants to point fingers at Allison out of deference to Tim. If she is your source, you have done one of the poorest editing jobs in Knoxville history. The story here is whether or not any local politicos are pushing her buttons.

barker's picture


You're implying that I'm not a local, which sent me into a fit of laughter. I was born in Chattanooga, raised in Kingston and, with the exception of two years spent in Middle Tennessee, have lived in East Tennessee all my life. I've known Tim Burchett for longer than a decade. He is not a friend, nor is he an enemy. He is a public official whom I cover as a journalist. I was not involved in the editing of these news stories but I have done my homework so I could have input on our editorials, which is my job. This isn't about me, however. It's about the proper spending of campaign funds.

alan swartz's picture

"He is not a friend, nor is

"He is not a friend, nor is he an enemy."

Do you actually read the Sentinel? Tim Burchett is the new Tim Hutchison at your paper. He is someone's enemy at that paper. Ironic how the Sentinel loved Burchett up to the point he defied your editors on the school budget. Not so much love now is there?

The Sentinel never went to this extreme even for Darth Hutchison. This is a new low.

rikki's picture

Awesome. We've got one

Awesome. We've got one anonymous coward insisting the Sentinel is trying to destroy Burchett with this story and another insisting they are doing Burchett's bidding. Where would we be without all these brilliant insights?

As for me, my take squares with R.Neal. I see an incomplete set of evidence that seems as likely to add up to nothing as to something. Certainly the story raises questions, but most of mine right now are hovering around, "Do I care?"

alan swartz's picture

I'm not sure the Sentinel can

I'm not sure the Sentinel can destroy anyone. I think they try to control people and issues. But tell me one thing recently they have been successful at controlling. You give them too much credit.

As far as people caring. I don't think anyone cares now. This was a tempest in a teapot.

Anonamoose's picture


On Sunday George Korda's radio show announced the Burchett's had reached a divorce settlement. I assumed a confidentiality clause was part of that settlement.
Interesting since the original court date was Decemeber. Why the sudden 6 month advance?
Makes one wonder if Timmy boy convinced Allison not to give the paper info to clear her name which might implicate him? For example, checks written to Tim, written by Tim, joint bank account statements where the funds were deposited, etc.

Today we learned no divorce settlement/confidentiality agreement was signed. In that case, I would guess this is not the last we have seen/heard of Ms. Burchett. She isn't exactly a fragile, weak, shrinking violet, and I would go so far as to say she doesn't take lightly to her ex's accusations.

Stay tuned folks.

fischbobber's picture


Korda's not in anybodies loop. The Republicans I know still laugh about the picture of him holding an umbrella over Victors head and the Democrats don't mention him. Were he not lugging around Petro's as a sponsor he would have been gone long ago.

reform4's picture



JCB's picture

"On Sunday George Korda's

"On Sunday George Korda's radio show announced the Burchett's had reached a divorce settlement."

Not so fast. The source for that was Allison Burchett. John North was on Korda's program and said Allison had "messaged" the Sentinel and claimed she and Tim Burchett had finalized their divorce amicably.

Consider the source. I don't know if she knows what amicable means.

fischbobber's picture

Laugh away and look around

It's time to put Sam Venable on the editorial board. He knows a dog turd when he smells one, that's for sure.

As for the spending of funds, when are you going to consider the signer of the checks? Do you honestly believe Allison Burchett would be the first wife in Knoxville history to spend money that wasn't hers behind her husbands back? Oh wait. You were raised in Kingston. How would you know?

Speaking of putting Sam on the editorial board, how about running that Tellico River murder story by him and asking him if it passes your "HEY! WE ARE LOCALS!" sniff test. Some of us fish that river with our kids you know. It would be nice to know what's going on. You know, the NEWS.

You guys are blowing these two stories. Own it.

Pam Strickland's picture

This post is totally

This post is totally misguided and rediculous.

Sam Venable is a humor writer. Yes, occasionally he gets tired of bullshit and calls it like it is, but that's opinion, not hard news reporting.

He knows his role and he does it well. You don't know what in hell you're talking about.

fischbobber's picture


This post is totally misguided and rediculous.

Uhh, Sam is a journalist who currently owns the best job in Knoxville because he's sold more papers than possibly anyone in this town's history.

To try to pigeonhole him into the "humorist" category does not even begin to give him his due. I would suggest that you start digging into the Sentinel archives, before Bob Hodge, before Morgan Simmons, before Lloyd Branham and due some study on his stint as outdoor editor/writer. Did you ever wonder why our outdoor page is so revered?

Read his books. Not his collections of essays. His books. After you've spent six months in the swamp getting a story, come back and tell me about hard news reporting.

And as for this"He knows his role and he does it well." , did you run it by him that you were going to refer to him like an Australian Shepard that's been trained to keep garter snakes away from snot-nosed brats? Just curious.

Anyhoo, I like reading Sam's stuff and consider him a local treasure. He's from around here, you know?

R. Neal's picture

It certainly clears up a lot

It certainly clears up a lot of questions.

Anonamoose's picture


Logic please in Allison doing so? If she's truly as vendictive as many say, it doesn't make much sense and actually seems very counter-productive.
Going to call out your anonymous 'source' and say it's the Burchett camp,(Dean/Grider) if not Burchett himself.

Seems to me Burchett is trying to protect his personal/divorce issues from surfacing by first discrediting his ex publicly.

If the soon-to-be ex didn't already have reason to be scorned before, she certainly has one now.

The next few days/weeks should be VERY interesting indeed.

Bbeanster's picture

On Sunday George Korda's

On Sunday George Korda's radio show announced the Burchett's had reached a divorce settlement. I assumed ...

Who made the announcement? Unless it was Burchett himself, or Allison, such an announcement is worth about as much as any other anonymous, unsourced comment.

Interesting since the original court date was Decemeber. Why the sudden 6 month advance?
Makes one wonder if Timmy boy convinced Allison not to give the paper info to clear her name which might implicate him? For example, checks written to Tim, written by Tim, joint bank account statements where the funds were deposited, etc.

Big assumptions based on no information.

Today we learned no divorce settlement/confidentiality agreement was signed.

Who learned that, and from whom? I sure hadn't heard anything either way.

She isn't exactly a fragile, weak, shrinking violet, and I would go so far as to say she doesn't take lightly to her ex's accusations.

What's he accused her of, besides saying he wasn't aware of the checks she'd written?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Hmm. That's twice now she's said that...

I've got nothing against Mike Donila, but was I out of the room when he was voted the KnoxViews "golden boy?"

barker's picture

Golden Boy

Tamara wrote: ' I've got nothing against Mike Donila, but was I out of the room when he was voted the KnoxViews "golden boy?" '


fischbobber's picture

This whole thing

If indeed Allison proves to be the source of this "controversy" the Sentinel ought to be ashamed. If I shot someone and came to the NS and said "I shot this dude, but it's really my wife's fault because she told me to do it." Would that justify the paper withholding my identity? What about, "I shot this dude , but it's really my wife's fault because she told me she was busy and I should just handle it."? Is it the position of the local newspaper that they are going to hide felons identities for a scoop?

And if Allison is not involved..........the information is likely stolen. Keep in mind here, we're looking at a civil infraction if it involves Tim, and only a criminal one if someone did something without his knowledge. Stealing the bank records though, is a more serious crime than screwing up on the campaign funds. So, what are we supposed to think? Why the drama? If Tim's done something wrong, nail him. Let's get a cross and hang him up at James White Fort.

If not, apologize and move on. One way or another, someone needs to be held accountable.

Also, just out of curiosity, what did he supposedly spend the money on?

barker's picture

how money was spent

We don't know how the money was spent because it wasn't listed on the campaign finance disclosure. That's kind of the point.

fischbobber's picture

The money

Perhaps you should ask your source. There is always the chance that she is the ONLY ONE who knows. See the problem?

barker's picture


What makes you think our reporters haven't been asking questions? Do you really think we're that incompetent? Jeez, people who don't work in the news buisness must think reporters just sit around the coffee pot waiting for press releases. That ain't the case.

We have only reported what we can confirm, which is that expenditures from the campaign account don't match the campaign finance disclosures. Lots of other people, including you, have jumped to conclusions that neither the KNS news staff nor its editorial board have put forward.

fischbobber's picture

The point

Is that the motivation of your source is personal/political revenge.

I consider your asking about my opinion of your general competence an unfair question. I believe the manner in which this particular story is being handled speaks for itself.

If you look at the signatures on the checks and the circumstances around their writing then it becomes fairly clear that one person knows what happened to the cash. Ask her.

What you are doing here is asking the guy that was robbed to tell you what the thief did with his money. Oddly enough, the thief, who is the only one who knows, appears to be the source of your story, which is that the guy was robbed. What makes you think that you will ever be able to trace the cash ? Tim only has two choices, throw her in jail, or let this ride. You're not reporting news, you're creating it. It is unethical behavior.

Furthermore it is poor editing.

What makes you think the people on this board don't now or haven't in the past worked in the news business? Some of the posters here have been in the game quite a while.

barker's picture


Some of the people on this board have worked in journalism, but others show a complete ignorance of how reporters work.

It bumfuzzles me how documents can have a motive. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

Every source has an ax to grind. That's one thing you learn just about from day 1 in the newspaper business and part of the job is taking that into account. Do you think Daniel Ellsberg was motivated by pure civic duty to give the Pentagon Papers to Neil Sheehan? No. He was against the war and thought publication of the papers would prompt officials to end our involvement sooner. Sheehan and his editors at the Times took that into consideration and published the papers because they were legitimate documents. They would have done the same thing had the papers come from Henry Kissinger.

fischbobber's picture


Do you honestly believe that people on this board don't understand protecting a source?

Furthermore, you appear to be contending that a check that the mayor may or may not have been aware of, and which may or may not be cause for a civil fine, and which was likely leaked by a vindictive future ex-wife (either directly or indirectly to you) is somehow the local journalistic equivalent of the Pentagon Papers?

Did it occur to you that Tim may have been in love with his wife in 2010 while she was laying the groundwork to take him down?

Donilla gets paid to find this, but it's an editors job to use the good judgement to know what is and isn't a story. It's a poor job of editing.

barker's picture


I believe there are people on this board who understand how reporting works and there are people on this board who don't.

Obviously, the relative importance of the Pentagon Papers and the Burchett matter is different, but the principle is the same. You take the source's motivation into account, but you look at the documents. In this instance, the documents don't match. That's the point. I don't know if Allison wrote the checks on her own or if Tim directed her to do so, and it's unlikely a newspaper can definitively say (we haven't tried). That's why it would be good for the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance to look into it.

If you don't think that a questionable campaign finance disclosure of a candidate is news, then you don't understand news. You seem to want to sweep this under the rug. I want to get it out in the open and see what really happened. I would imagine some of Tim's donors would too. After all, they were the ones who gave the money.

JCB's picture

"What you are doing here is

"What you are doing here is asking the guy that was robbed to tell you what the thief did with his money. Oddly enough, the thief, who is the only one who knows, appears to be the source of your story, which is that the guy was robbed."

Good analogy. Allison shopped this all over town and only McElroy would take it.

"You're not reporting news, you're creating it. It is unethical behavior."

That is the more serious issue. Not Allison's little revenge. The only daily paper needs new management.

Average Guy's picture

The anonymous source

I think that's a key part to what people are missing. If the source doesn't know, and Tim Burchett doesn't know, then Harmon seems to be the only one performing a service to voters.

barker's picture


You win the prize. If no one is saying anything on the record about the expenditures, then the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance should look into it. And Harmon is doing a public service by asking them to do so.

fischbobber's picture

The source


The issue is whether or not the mayor knows.

Average Guy's picture

The source,

if it's Allison Burchett, claims she did only as directed. Which means she could know about the check she signed, but have no clue as to what it was for.

The Mayor said he wants to "get to the bottom of this". Which implies he doesn't know.

If a benign reason exist for where the money went, or it could be chalked up to a clerical error, this would already be over.

fischbobber's picture

The check

had to be cashed. Look and see who it was written out to.

Allison clearly made a better impression on you than she did on me.

Average Guy's picture

I like the fact the Mayor is

I like the fact the Mayor is one of the few politicians that stands behind what he says.

I don't know Allison Burchett.

Both are irrelevant to the reporting which has read like Swiss cheese. A reporter, or editor, are well within their right to report on Swiss cheese. But if they want to give a full report, it's good for their readers only if they accurately describe the holes. I don't think that's been done in regard to this story.

But if all the KNS had were documents that showed misappropriated money, with no idea where the money went, should they still not report the misappropriation?

Tylissa's picture

It is the point

Mr.Barker, some people are dissing you for information they made up. Some appear upset the paper did not make it up first.

Up Goose Creek's picture

James White Fort

If Tim's done something wrong, nail him. Let's get a cross and hang him up at James White Fort

Well that's a bit dramatic for a campaign violation. James White Fort already has stocks, isn't that that more appropriate? But the story is about Allison - she appears to be the one who commited the alleged misdeed. Burchett's "crime", if this is not cleared up, is giving someone without ethics acess to the campaign checkbook. I don't expect him to micromanage every expenditure of the campaign. If he gets hit with a fine, so be it, but I don't consider it a personal failing unless he knew about misspent funds.

fischbobber's picture

To Up Goose Creek

Exactly and touche'.

And you're right. Stocks are more appropriate.

Frankly, I'll be glad when this whole sordid affair is over so we can get back to the business of moving this community forward.

Rachel's picture

Here's what I don't

Here's what I don't understand: presumably the Mayor could make this all go away by filing an amended campaign expenditure stmt with all the $$ in question probably accounted for.

Why hasn't he? Or maybe he's working on it? Or maybe I'm wrong?

At this point, I'm not ready to or interested in accusing anybody of anything but sloppy bookkeeping, but that really does need to be straightened out.

alan swartz's picture

"Here's what I don't

"Here's what I don't understand: presumably the Mayor could make this all go away by filing an amended campaign expenditure stmt with all the $$ in question probably accounted for."

To do that, Burchett would have to have the receipts for the expenses. The same receipts that Allison was reimbursed for. How do you propose Burchett get said receipts from Miss Congeniality?

Rachel's picture

Here's something else I don't

Here's something else I don't understand: why would he move out and leave all the records in her possession?

And where's the campaign treasurer in all this? He's the person who should have written checks, filled out forms, etc.

Barker's picture

no kidding

I can kind of understand Tim's leaving the receipts behind initially, but only because he probably had other things on his mind at the time. The initial separation can be brutal and it's intensely personal. However, they've been separated for a while, both are represented by lawyers and it's Tim's responsibility to keep track of his campaign stuff. They could have worked something out.

I, too, would like to know about the treasurer (he ain't returning calls). Why wasn't the treasurer in charge of the treasury? A candidate can be his or her own treasurer, so why name someone to the position if he's not going to have any responsibility? It's not fishy, necessarily, but it is puzzling.

fischbobber's picture

About your question

Here's something else I don't understand: why would he move out and leave all the records in her possession?

Because, he hadn't done anything wrong and he just wanted the hell out. Clearly, she's a charmer.

Average Guy's picture

He could get a copy of the

He could get a copy of the transaction from the entity that issued the receipt. If he truely doesn't know who that is, then the burden of proving where the money went falls soley to Mrs. Burchett.

And if that's the case, she's destroyed nobody but herself.

Barker's picture


Which is why it would be good for the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance to sort out the mess.

alan swartz's picture

"If he truely doesn't know

"If he truely doesn't know who that is, then the burden of proving where the money went falls soley to Mrs. Burchett."

But by not finding the receipts Miss Congeniality can stick Tim Burchett with up to $88,000 in election finance fines. Which may have been the entire point of this exercise.

Barker's picture


Herein lies the cautionary tale. Entrust the accounting to accountants.

Average Guy's picture

That only makes sense,

if she planned on going into a divorce with $88,000 less in assets.

A $44,000 point seems like one even the most scorned woman wouldn’t make.

Barker's picture


I'm going out on a limb here, but I think that technically any fine assessed the Burchett campaign would not be applied to the marital assets. If Tim's campaign is assessed an $88,000 penalty (I have no clue where swartz or whoever got that number), he would have to raise the money to pay it back out of his campaign coffers. At least, that's how I read it. I readily admit I might be wrong on this part. I don't know if a candidate is personally liable for debts incurred by his or her campaign. There's probably some case law out there.

alan swartz's picture

The election fines would be

The election fines would be paid from the campaign. It should be 8 X $10,000. I had remembered it as $11,000 max fine per event. It is $10,000.

She is doing that so he won't be Mayor again. Not to cost him personal money that she wants. She doesn't like him.

barker's picture


Interesting that you should arrive at eight as the number of violations. Care to enumerate them?

fischbobber's picture


Eight is the number of checks your paper reported as being questionable.

Clearly he was operating under the assumption that something in the article wasn't bullshit and lies.

When you get right down to it, he gives you quite a bit of credit.

Average Guy's picture

If that's the case,

then she's misunderestimated our fair county and the Party that controls it.

This incident won't register in two years, even if it plays out worse case scenario.

fischbobber's picture

Marriage and divorce

are funny things.

I am of the opinion that the likely hood of Tim being able to expense this out is slim. That is the whole point of this exercise. I sure hope this isn't a sign that the Sentinel is going to totally give up on the news and exclusively report on situations of marital discord.

This is a bullshit trumped up charge that is nothing more than a vengeful woman attempting to discredit her ex through any means necessary.

I hope the guy just pays the ten thousand and says "Sorry I can't help, but I've been set up. Accept this as a sign of good faith."

And then sticks it to her in divorce court.

Barker's picture


I feel badly for the Burchetts that they are going through an obviously bitter divorce. I disagree that KNS is reporting exclusively on marital discord. Yes, we reported it when Allison filed for divorce and have mentioned the divorce in the reporting of these stories, but only to give context. The stories this week have been about campaign money, not their private assets or any point of dispute in their divorce. Their divorce should remain a private matter unless something comes up that affects his public duties.

You have posted that you have been friends with Tim for decades and I understand your loyalty. I hope my friends would be loyal to me in similar circumstances. But journalists covering him are not his friends. They should be loyal to journalism, not the subject of their stories.

fischbobber's picture

Loyal to Journalism? What's that smell?

But journalists covering him are not his friends. They should be loyal to journalism, not the subject of their stories.

See that's the point. You haven't been loyal to journalism. You've been played for suckers and fools. You thought the progressives would jump on board with this steaming pile of crap because we were all pissed about the school tax, but you forget, our scruples are part of who we are . I've known Tim for decades, as have thousands of other people. Were you REALLY from around here, you'd know him too. This is not about personal loyalty to Tim, this is about simple right and wrong.

You've been played and you're hiding behind an alleged code of ethics that you didn't follow to begin with.

As I explained to my wife, this is no different than her taking an inactive credit card, running up a bunch of charges, hiding the bills from me then running to you guys screaming" See! See! He's a crook! He doesn't pay his bills! Here's the evidence."

You're lucky he's a public figure and that protects you from being sued for slander, for had you used your ethics on Joe Average Citizen you'd be looking at a six to seven figure payout.

alan swartz's picture

called it


"As I explained to my wife, this is no different than her taking an inactive credit card, running up a bunch of charges, hiding the bills from me then running to you guys screaming" See! See! He's a crook! He doesn't pay his bills! Here's the evidence."


"The checks Allison Burchett wrote to herself, however, are still not documented."

Barker's picture

Blue in the face

Fischbobber, your xenophobia and provincialism are annoying, but I'll continue the dialogue because I want to help out a fellow East Tennessean even if he doesn't recognize me as being an East Tennessean. I don't care whether you think I'm REALLY from around here or not. I am. And I'm a seasoned journalist who knows a little bit about how journalism works. Good journalists can come from East Tennessee and they can come from other places too.

Apparently I'm going to have to keep saying this until I'm blue in the face, but look at what we actually reported. We reported that the checks and the disclosures didn't add up. That's basically it. We have not said that the money was used for illegal purposes. We have not said Tim committed a crime. We have not said Allison committed a crime. Neither of them have disputed the basic reporting that there are discrepancies between the checks and the disclosures. In fact, the Burchett campaign essentially acknowledged the reporting was accurate by filing an amended disclosure form on Friday (if there was nothing inaccurate in the original disclosure, they wouldn't need to file an amended version). Your tossing around a term like "slander" when the basic facts are not in dispute is an indication that you don't understand the term "slander."

Your analogy of a wife using an inactive credit card and the Burchett situation is not exactly apt. First, the account was still active and apparently Allison had access to it when she wrote the checks. Second, unlike a private account, Tim had to sign off on the expenditures and file the reports with the state. You know as well as I do that if you sign off on something like that, the presumption is that you've reviewed the documentation and vouch for it. That's the principle behind IRS filings (H&R Block isn't responsible for your federal tax return, you are) and that's the principle behind Tennessee campaign finance law.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


What I don't understand is why she didn't just go to the State Ethics Board to start with.

I filed a residency-related lawsuit against a candidate for public office once--and I did ultimately carry my complaint to the KNS.

I didn't first carry my complaint to the KNS, though.

I first carried it to the Knox County Election Commission (before the time I understood that the Local Election Administrator really isn't the party charged in statute with qualifying candidates). I next filed that lawsuit. Carrying my complaint to the KNS was the last step I took--and it was a superfluous step, really, since media weren't the ones able or obligated to decide my issue.

All I can tell so far is that if Allison or whomever is intent first and foremost on ensuring that the campaign's finances are examined, she really hasn't taken the most expedient course of action to get that done.

Which leaves me wondering if it's truly an altruistic concern for campaign donors that's driving her actions.

Which in turns leaves me feeling a bit peevish toward her and sympathetic toward her husband.

And causes me to wonder if she has any valid issue at all.

We'll find out, I guess--and that's a good thing--I just hate the way these questions arose.

JCB's picture


"The checks Allison Burchett wrote to herself, however, are still not documented."


Today's News Sentinel story shows what a fraud by the Sentinel this has become. Straight up collusion between McElroy and Allison Burchett. How sick will this get?

AnonaMoose 's picture

Still wrong

From today's article:
"Expenditures for two checks written by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's wife during the 2010 election are now correctly recorded as required by state campaign finance law."

How did you arrive at the conclusion the Rice expense is now properly recorded when state law clearly states it must be recorded as a payment to the original vendor, and cannot be recorded as "reimbursements" or "misc" or any other generic description and cannot be listed as payment to the 3rd party. T.C.A. 2-10-107 (a) (2) (b)

Allison certainly didn't make this error?

AnonaMoose 's picture

Funny pseudonyms

I Do find the humor in "Alan Swartz" being SO close to "Alan Schwartz" with Swartz being a Burchett defender whilst Schwartz was always an antagonist. Nice work Dean, et al. Nice to see you are mastering the blogs even if you can't master an expense report.

Average Guy's picture

Put up or shut up

She says they used the money for personal expenses.


That's what she says. Surely she wouldn't "say" it with no proof, right?

The KNS angle on telling this "story" seems to be an angle where the most important facts for readers are secondary.

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