May 19 2010
07:00 am

As noted by Joe Powell last week and WBIR yesterday, Tennessee ranks # 1 for combined categories of: Public corruption, Racketeering and Extortion, Forgery and Counterfeiting; Fraud; and Embezzlement.

The data was tabulated and reported by The Daily Beast. They used a decades worth of federal data (1998 - 2008) and "leveled the playing field by calculating the numbers on a per-100,000 people basis". And, of course, The Daily Beast highlights the Newport criminal element.

We're number 1! We're number 1!

sugarfatpie's picture

Wow. I shouldn't be

Wow. I shouldn't be surprised, but I must admit that I am.

Reasons I shouldn't be surprised:

Midway: Remember those $1000 donations that County Commissioners got for supporting this boondogle? KNS not-so heroic reporting on this here. Greater clarity at (link...)

Hutchison: We repudiated him, but don't forget how he ran this county.

Newport: Gave me the creeps when I drove through there the other day on the way to LEAF. Any town that puts the police blotter on the 2nd page of the paper must have issues.

Celia's picture

coker story

great example of extortion, corruption, and lies

Joe P.'s picture

i was, at least, rather

i was, at least, rather stunned a news outlet in the state had bothered to actually report on this study, and as best as i can tell, WBIR is the only outlet to do so. i was notified of this report from an email from a PR person for The Daily Beast, and i'd bet cash money many, many news outlets in TN got this story (could be wrong, of course, but still ...)

what would impress me would be to see a local or state print or other traditional media outlet get some responses from our own elected officials on these numbers and ratings. it was and is easy for me to link and copy and paste from the study, but i'm no paid reporter. you'd think one paid reporter in the state might take the time to dig and follow up on this story. of course, so very few reporters are actually paid to investigate stories.

notable too are the typical comments that cite Illinois for having several ex-governors jailed/prosecuted - missing the even larger number of clerks or deputies or dozens of other minor and mid-level office holders who've been convicted or fired for malfeasance and abuses of authority in this state over a 10-year period (as you noted, adjusted for populations, we rank as the worst of the worst).

and Newport is not so much an exceptionally bad county - for me, they are emblematic of a statewide and systemic problem. the recent and long-ranging problems attempting to just remove the Knox Co. Law Director from office is a telling example. another good example can be found in the city of Morristown as noted by blogger Linda Noe - the State Comptroller has been explicitly citing and warning them for illegal transfers of money to hide massive budget shortfalls and there is no response from the media to the problem.

it should be deeply disturbing to Tennesseans that our state ranks so badly and deeply disturbing to those in office who do their jobs well. hopefully, your mention on KV of this study will stir up some much-needed discussion and attention to a problem that grows worse every passing year and decade.

marytheprez's picture

Greed, lies and cover-ups in Tennessee governments, etc.

This news flash should not surprise anyone who sees or hears the daily news 'bulletins'... like today's examples: the County Clerk's employee trying to license a stolen car...or the Asst. Housing Director's stealing "more than previously thought". Yes, Arnett does need to do a complete audit!

We have got to elect candidates who will return integrity, honesty, efficiency,and respect to Knox County government, especially in the County Mayor's office. "A New Direction" will not be accomplished by electing a member of the Good Ole Party that gave us Lockett, the Ragsdale Lunch Bunch, or anyone connected to the remnants of the past lapses in trustworthy governance.

And, hey, Joe...I used to love your great reporting when I lived in Morristown! Did ya hear about the secretary at First Baptist, Morristown, running off with $124,000! And yeah, Cocke County works hard to earn its seedy one point last year, just about all law enforcement, city and county, were all in the slammer for various offenses!

Bird_dog's picture


will likely challenge us to a duel over this.

sugarfatpie's picture

#18 challenging #1? Not

#18 challenging #1? Not likely.

talidapali's picture

That's okay...

We ARE number one after a duel...we would cheat. While Louisiana was marching the required ten paces before turning, we would be sneaking right along behind them...pistol at the ready.

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-BANG!-10 [thud]

Terry Troll's picture


Boy howdy, you got that right. I have lived in Louisiana for 19 years now (It's temporary though, I'm coming home soon) and have always heard and always believe that we had the most corrupt politicians and government in the US. I mean think about it; The Kingfish wrote the book on how it's done; we have one three time Gov., Edwin Edwards, who is still in the federal pen at Kinder doing 10 to 20 and could probably get re-elected next week. (He was a good Gov. I would vote for him against Piyoush Jindal)
It shakes me to the core to find this out.
Must check this.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Don't Stop Now

Josh Flory's News-Sentinel article on the visit from Charlotte ex-mayor Pat McCrory had some interesting tidbits. Bet he didn't have "Most Corrupt" in mind when he said:

For all its recent accolades as the Best City for This, That or the Other, one gets the impression that Knoxvillians are still anxious to hear that those success stories are being noticed in places like Atlanta or Charlotte or Louisville, Ky., or Nashville. In that regard, McCrory may have offered the best advice of all.

“Things are going great. The city looks beautiful,” he said. “Now is not the time to stop.”

cooperhawk's picture

Using the standards they are

Using the standards they are going by, looks like mainly convictions and arrests, we are number one at getting caught. Perhaps they are not paying off the right people. Maybe our corrupt yokels are just more stupider.

Average Guy's picture

Seek and ye shall find

I have a feeling government corruption is about like NCAA athletic infractions. "Getting caught" is likely just a matter of someone with authority looking.

Appfleurs's picture

I am not at all surprised, stunned or startled...

I am not at all surprised, stunned or startled regarding Tennessee's #1 ranking in statewide corruption. In fact, I feel validated. I have been saying for years that my home state is the most corrupt state I have ever seen. While I haven't lived in very many states, the five I have observed on a local basis give good ol' Rocky Top the top "honor" hands down.

Now if we can just keep the Knox County School Board away from the Dancing Bear Lodge, perhaps we can save at least one teacher's aide position in the upcoming budget.

Corruption starts in your own back yard, folks.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Quick aside:

School board members have voluntarily chosen to cover their own travel expenses in the upcoming budget year, Appfleurs.

Even so, the cuts to teacher and teacher aide positions still appear necessary.

Mrs.King's picture

The truth needs to come out

The very top of the list is Maryville TN with Welfare fraud....or forgery.The Maryville police always look the other way, always.

Anonymousknoxville's picture

Chambers and schools also corrupt

Once thing I notice here is that their is a mafia style control over businesses. This corrupt group is make up of people in state government controlled offices and those receiving state grants and those working for the state directly or indirectly.

Here is a list of examples:

1. Chamber of Commerce - Take in dues from small businesses and do very little for them while going out of their way for those who spend the most money (large business / schools / local and state government)The board is almost never make up of those from small businesses who do not contribute a large amount of money.
It is made up of county employees, colleges, TNSBDC employees, other government employees, largest businesses and a few small businesses who contribute a large amount of money.

2. TNBDC - State funded stands for Tennessee Small Business Development Centers. They collect data on small businesses and are there to help them but too often are get caught up in corrupt incubators and accelerators that receive large amounts of federal, state and local grants and then turn the money over to private investors who are almost always politically connected and had something to do with getting the grant in the first place. Talk about corruption! Launch Tennessee is the state body of these accelerators.

3. County and City Governments - No need to explain

4. Tennessee Board of Regents - Have become more and more corrupt with huge influxes of grants going to schools. Schools have become experts in the area of grant writing and usually use their money to buy off chambers of commerce and are almost always on their board of directors. They also help influence elections in order to get their people to push more grants their way.

Several fraternal organizations - These are not usually corrupt but have been taken over by those who have perverted them for selfish reasons. Members are often lured by the side-bar promise of business rewards due to affiliations.

Even some churches have been abused the same as the example of fraternal organizations.

Evil will always find co-operate with evil when it comes to greed and corruption.

KnoxvilleChamber's picture

Greater Knoxville Chamber Corrupt

Has anyone else had an experience with the Greater Knoxville Chamber not wanting to assist their efforts in order to protect a member who is paying them a lot of money?

Is this normal here? If so, this is corruption at this greatest point. Taking money from the masses and using it to benefit the few.

I have experienced this in two separate areas of Tennessee and both had to do with the Chamber attempting to control business. I thought the were there as a community service to businesses not to attempt to dictate, control and pick winners and looses in business.

reform4's picture

Lets be clear.

The OP is not saying they Chamber would take direct action against a small business to favor a larger member.

The OP is saying the Chamber is happy to take our dues while ignoring our interests and giving no effective representation on the Chamber board.

When I started my small business and got my membership (1 year only), I certainly felt that way. I've spoken to over a dozen people in EOK who felt ignored as well, and that their dues were a waste of $$, which is an issue for small startups. This issue is part of the reason EOK was formed, IIRC.

Nice straw man try, though.

rht's picture

public sector vs private sector

not clear to me, but seems like most of the Daily Beast criteria might have included private sector as well as public sector corruption. So not sure how our government itself compares. But stories like the Haslam/Jones Lang LaSalle deal are very troublesome

AnonymousOne's picture

I dunno. You'd think if we

I dunno. You'd think if we were #1 in state corruption we would be ranked higher in college football polls.

Ex-Chamber for Christ's picture

Knoxville Chamber Corrupt; Ageeed

I can tell you from my own experience that the Knoxville Chamber is as corrupt as they come. This includes much of the board of directors and the executives.

There is a collusion between certain businesses that plans how to best promote their own little click and if you are int the way of their corrupt agenda you had better look out. This power stretches all the way to the Governor's office who was put in office due much to the credit of the Knoxville Chamber. Many of those involved in promoting the corruption that ranked us number one are also connected to these groups. But don't be fooled into thinking it stops at the door of the Knoxville Camber. Any one chamber can make sure you are blacklisted throughout the state. Once of this list you will find it almost impossible to do business without issues because these connection involve the states and city governments.

So the person who compared it to a mafia is spot on!

BTW - to the person who doubted the corrupt schools; they apply for grants with the help of the state, county and city officials then use much of that money to pay them off in different ways. For example: maybe it includes buying equipment. Guess who owns the supply company. Maybe it requires building a building, guess who the contractors is? Or maybe they hire someone who is willing to take the contract and split some of the profits with the people who helped push the deal to them. This is called in the underground world as "dropping envelopes" which means you walk into someone's office have a short conversation tell them they dropped something and on the floor when they look down is an envelope full of cash. Wake up, it happens every day!

Show me a government contract and I will show you someone getting a kickback or favor. the Chamber is well known for helping its highest paid members connect with those all to willing to make a deal in order for the Easter Bunny to drop off a few envelopes.

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