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State Ethics Commission Could Be Downsized

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 By Dan Gordon, Public News Service - TN, Contact
May 6, 2009

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee State Ethics Commission was established after five state lawmakers were convicted of accepting bribes following a 2005 sting the FBI called Operation Tennessee Waltz. Now that recently-formed commission could be downsized under legislation proposed by State Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

Ketron, who is a Republican, wants to merge the Ethics Commission with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, a move he says would save the state more than $300,000.

"The merger is from an economic standpoint of reducing and making government smaller."

The idea is widely opposed by, among others, Governor Phil Bredesen, the group Tennessee Citizen Action and the chair of the commission, R. Larry Brown.

Brown says spending less on ethics monitoring would weaken the commission and send the wrong message.

"I guess it's a question of whether spending some dollars to have ethics enforcement is important or not."

Commission chair Brown is, like Governor Bredeson, a Democrat.

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