NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The acting director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation now finds himself at the center of an investigation based on allegations from his own wife, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned.
Those allegations against Jason Locke -- raising claims about a possible extramarital affair with another high-ranking state official at taxpayer expense -- were sent late last week by Locke's wife, Kim, in an email to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Locke was one of three finalists that Haslam was considering for appointment as the new TBI director. On Monday, Haslam ended the search, naming Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch to replace former director Mark Gwyn.
"What I can say is that we've referred it to law enforcement," said Jennifer Donnals, press secretary for Haslam. "That's all we can say at this point."
Donnals later clarified that Tennessee Safety Commissioner David Purkey first reached out to Kim Locke, but the matter has now been referred to state auditors in the Tennessee Comptroller's Office.
In those emails, Kim Locke accuses her husband of having an affair with Sejal West, who was previously deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She now holds a lower-ranking position in the department.
"He admitted to me that he drove his state vehicle and she drove her state vehicle to stay in hotels paid for by the State of Tennessee," Kim Locke's email said.
"They each found a reason to be at those locations to continue their affair."
In a later email, Kim Locke wrote: "Sejal West's husband told me that there were numerous trips out of town on state time that they took together. Jason only admitted to 2 trips."
Kim Locke also noted that the acting TBI director had "done away with the state phone that he used during this affair and was issued a new state phone and began using the WhatsApp to continue the affair, because it is encrypted."
She ended one email by informing Haslam that she had contacted NewsChannel 5.
In another, she expressed concern about her own safety, alleging that Locke had pulled a gun and held it in his hands during their conversation about the affair.
"I'm very afraid that I'm in danger," Kim Locke emailed the governor. "I just need to know you're reading this and someone knows."
Allegations about the affair were also sent to Marie Williams, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Marie Williams responded to Kim Locke, "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This will be looked into and the appropriate actions taken."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates reached out to Jason Locke for comment.
Lebanon attorney Jeff Cherry responded with a letter stating that he had been retained to represent Locke.
"Any statement concerning this issue will come from this office," Cherry wrote. "Please direct all future correspondence to my attention."
Reached by phone, Cherry said that he had not had a chance to talk in detail with Locke about the allegations and did not have a comment at this time.
Sejal West did not respond to NewsChannel 5's calls. Her husband hung up when a reporter called.
Locke, a 21-year veteran of the TBI, served as deputy director since 2016. After longtime TBI Director Mark Gwyn retired back in May, Locke assumed the position of acting director.
Ironically, it was the TBI that headed the investigation into the affair of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry with the head of her security detail. Barry was forced to resign as part of a deal with prosecutors that required her to enter a conditional guilty plea to theft charges.
A NewsChannel 5 investigation last fall raised questions about the hiring of Locke's son, Hunter, as a TBI special agent with no experience. The TBI characterized his hiring as a "legacy" hire.
Rausch takes over as TBI director next Monday, June 25th.
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