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NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption

Senator Files Report Listing Thousand Dollars as 'Contribution'

(Story created 9/20/05)

FIRST ON 5: A state senator reacts to questions about his role in the Capitol Hill Corruption scandal. But, in doing so, state Sen. Jeff Miller may have just raised even more questions.

Miller, R-Cleveland, isn't one of the lawmakers charged so far in the FBI sting of Capitol Hill.

But he was one of the sponsors of a bill pushed by agents, and he admitted taking a thousand dollars cash.

Since then, he has been dogged by questions about that money -- money that he said he treated as a campaign contribution.

"I put it with all my other campaign contributions," Miller told NewsChannel 5's chief investigative reporter Phil Williams back in July.

"Would you provide proof that you did that?" Williams asked.

"My word should be enough for you, Phil."

Now, regulators with the state's Registry of Election Finance say the East Tennessee Republican has filed a voluntary report showing a $1,000 campaign contribution from lobbyist Charles Love.

The report was filed less than two weeks after Love -- one of the so-called bagmen who acted as a go-between for the bribes -- pleaded guilty and began cooperating with authorities.

"He reported a contribution from Mr. Love of a thousand dollars, and it stated that he received it on January 10th, 2005," said Drew Rawlins, the Registry's executive director.

But this is what Miller told us about when he got the money:

"My best recollection is the sixth of January, and that's the date I have written down."

So which date is correct -- and did the thousand dollars really go in his campaign account?  Drew Rawlins say Miller's report doesn't settle the question.

"It is his word, as all reports are."

While Democrats have called for him to come clean and produce the evidence, Miller's response today, as before, appears to be: trust me.

"I'm telling you what I did with it, and I believe my word should be good enough."

Miller did not return telephone calls for this story.

But speculation has focused on whether Charles Love may be talking about other lawmakers.

When we asked Miller's secretary whether she or any of the senator's staff had recently been questioned by the FBI, all she would say is that she couldn't talk about that.

And the story's not over. Former Sen. Roscoe Dixon is due back in court Thursday.

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