Regulators Say 'There's a Problem on the Hill' - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption

Regulators Say 'There's a Problem on the Hill'

(Story created: 7/13/05)

They have their hands on your wallet, but who watches over all the lawmakers and lobbyists on Capitol Hill? State regulators began tackling new allegations. But some fear they face an overwhelming problem.

State Rep. Bill Baird may have picked the wrong day to beg a state board to forgive him for not filing reports showing how he spent his campaign money.

After months of controversy over Senate chairman John Ford, the board that's supposed to police politicians and lobbyists was in no mood to give Baird a break.

Some are now calling for the Registry of Election Finance to be scrapped -- and replaced by a new get-tough ethics commission.

"I'm telling you all there's a problem up there on the Hill. We're getting sucked like a rip tide into it," Registry member Will Long told his colleagues.

Responding to a NewsChannel 5 investigation, the registry voted to demand that the Senate's number two man, Sen. Mike Williams, explain his use of campaign funds to buy NASCAR tickets that he used to pay off a debt to a former girlfriend.

It's a charge that she backed up in a sworn affidavit obtained by NewsChannel 5.

"I take full responsibility, Phil," the senator told NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams at the time. "I'm not hiding from you or anyone else. I made a mistake on this."

The registry also voted to demand that TennCare figure Osbie Howard defend his wining and dining of former Sen. John Ford and four other lawmakers.

But members worry that the problems in this world of friends and favors may be more than they can handle.

"We have limited investigative authority," Long said. "We have limited fines. We have limited jurisdiction. And we can't fix every problem."

Barry Schmittou, the NewsChannel 5 viewer who filed the complaints, questions whether the Registry has done all it could do.

He filed a new round of complaints, asking the board to find out why so many lawmakers are using campaign funds to pay off credit cards -- as we first exposed -- without having to justify whether the credit card charges are legitimate or not.

  • Local News HeadlinesLocal NewsMore>>

  • NC5 Investigates: Economic Incentives

    UAW Drops Appeal Of Volkswagen Vote

    UAW Drops Appeal Of Volkswagen Vote

    Monday, April 21 2014 8:04 AM EDT2014-04-21 12:04:11 GMT
    The United Auto Workers has dropped its appeal of the February vote that it lost to unionize workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, the UAW announced Monday morning.more>>
    The United Auto Workers has dropped its appeal of the February vote that it lost to unionize workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, the UAW announced Monday morning.more>>
  • After Bombs, Boston Marathon Under Tight Security

    After Bombs, Boston Marathon Under Tight Security

    Monday, April 21 2014 7:53 AM EDT2014-04-21 11:53:40 GMT
    One year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, turning a day of athletic triumph into one of tragedy, the Boston Marathon returns to the streets on Monday. For the 118th edition of the world's oldest annual marathon, security along the course will be tighter than ever.more>>
    One year after a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, turning a day of athletic triumph into one of tragedy, the Boston Marathon returns to the streets on Monday. For the 118th edition of the world's oldest annual marathon, security along the course will be tighter than ever.more>>
  • Man Charged With Stealing From Seniors' Apartments

    Man Charged With Stealing From Seniors' Apartments

    Monday, April 21 2014 7:04 AM EDT2014-04-21 11:04:04 GMT
    Jackson police have charged a contract painter with stealing more than $13,000 from apartments in a senior living community. The police department in Jackson said 30-year-old Stephen Bragg has been charged with theft and aggravated burglary.more>>
    Jackson police have charged a contract painter with stealing more than $13,000 from apartments in a senior living community. The police department in Jackson said 30-year-old Stephen Bragg has been charged with theft and aggravated burglary.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.