NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Friends in High Places
Grand Jury Subpoena Seeks Sundquist E-mail
(Story created: 2/20/03)
The Bredesen administration is "cooperating fully" with investigators looking into contracts given out by the Sundquist administration, Gov. Phil Bredesen's press secretary confirms.
In recent weeks, that cooperation has meant handing over hundreds, maybe thousands, of backup copies of e-mail messages subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, officials say.
That includes e-mail to and from former Gov. Don Sundquist himself.
Now, NewsChannel 5 has learned that the federal grand jury's subpoena demands e-mail messages sent and received by 28 people with ties to the Sundquist administration. The subpoena covers e-mail since fiscal year 2001.
It includes not only the former governor, but also e-mail messages to/from:
Former deputy governor Alex Fischer.
Former deputy governor Wendell Moore.
Former special assistant Steve Leonard, now executive vice president at the University of Tennessee.
Sundquist legal counsel Jay Ballard.
Labor Commissioner Michael Magill
Economic and Community Development Commissioner Tony Grande.
Education Commissioner Faye Taylor.
And Al Ganier, a longtime Sundquist friend and founder of Education Networks of America.
The others included in the subpoena include lesser known political appointees and career bureaucrats, many of whom are involved in the state's contracting process.
NewsChannel 5 first revealed the existence of a grand jury subpoena back in December, although its contents were not known.
While the subpoena doesn't indicate that agents suspect those individuals are guilty of anything, it may suggest the breadth of the ongoing criminal investigation.
That federal and state criminal investigation was sparked by our own NewsChannel 5 investigation, Friends in High Places.
The investigation focuses on how two longtime friends of Sundquist landed almost $200 million in state contracts. It involves agents from the FBI, IRS, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state comptroller's office.
Investigators aren't talking about how long their probe might take.
But veteran criminal defense attorneys says such white-collar investigations normally take months.