Governor Bristles at Questions About Friends' Contracts - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Friends in High Places

Governor Bristles at Questions About Friends' Contracts

(Story created: 11/14/02)

Our NewsChannel 5 investigation first put the spotlight on state contracts handed to friends of the governor... friends like John Stamps and Al Ganier.

Yet, Gov. Don Sundquist has repeatedly dodged questions.

But as the governor met with reporters to reflect on what he hopes will be his legacy, we wanted to ask those questions... questions about why he accepted junkets with state contractors without disclosing them, as he promised in his own ethics policy.

"Why have you not followed your own ethics policy?" investigative reporter Phil Williams asked Sundquist.

"You've asked a question in a way, 'Have you stopped beating your wife,'" the governor answered.

"Actually, my question is simple: why haven't you followed your own policy?"

"Well, I think I have."

In fact, the governor charged the questions about insider contracts weren't really aimed at him, but at Senator-elect Lamar Alexander -- who served on the board of Ganier's Education Networks of America.

"It looked to me like you were trying to help Clement against Lamar. Now, I don't know that."

Our investigation also raised questions about this Chattanooga company, Workforce Strategists -- a company started by Stamps that immediately landed a no-bid contract worth almost $2 million.

Last month, the investigation widened as FBI and TBI agents seized records from the company.

"With all due respect, sir, I don't think they were working for Bob Clement," Williams asked Sundquist.

"That's an asinine statement," the governor replied.

Despite newspaper headlines across the state, Sundquist questioned whether the raid really happened.

"I don't think it happened. I have no knowledge of it happening. If you've got some hard evidence, you ought to give it to me and I will have it investigated."

As for his relationship with Stamps and Ganier:

"Governor, have you ever done anything to encourage your staff to do business with either Mr. Ganier or Mr. Stamps?" Williams asked.

"Is this an inquisition today? Do you want me to raise my hand and put my hand on the Bible. This is a legacy discussion."

Later, the governor continued, "But I'll answer your question. To the best of my knowledge, I have done nothing that has said to the state, 'Do this for John Stamps or do this for Al Ganier,' period."

"Then, by follow-up..." Williams began, to which the governor replied:

"I'm done answering your questions."

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