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Metro Board recommends censure of Jonathan Hall for not filing required documents

Metro Councilman Jonathan Hall #1
Posted at 5:39 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 18:39:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Councilman Jonathan Hall could face public censure by the Metro Council after an ethics board found he failed to file documents required of elected officials in Nashville.

The Metro Board of Ethical Conduct found Monday that since being elected in 2018, Jonathan Hall has not filed annual financial disclosures with the Metro Clerk two of the years and that he filed the reports in the third year late.

Metro Board of Ethical Conduct meeting March 7, 2022

The Board was acting on a sworn complaint filed by two of Hall's constituents in District 1 who alleged not only did Hall fail to file the reports as Metro rules require, but that he failed to report at least two large judgments against him.

Hall was ordered to pay $7,100 to a Nashville company after he failed to pay for campaign materials the company had created for him. The other judgment, for $35,000, was filed against Hall after he defaulted on a car loan.

The Board agreed that Hall should have reported the $7,100, but that he would not have been required to report the larger judgment on the auto loan, even though Hall's Metro Council salary is being garnished to make payments on what is owed on the Ford F-250 truck.

Murray Philip at Metro Board of Ethical Conduct Hearing

Murray Philip who appeared before the Board to explain why he and neighbor, Mechelle Neal, filed the Ethics complaint against Hall, also tried to convince the Board that Hall should have reported getting legal services from former Metro councilman Jamie Hollin who is an attorney and registered lobbyist.

Court records show Hollin represented Hall briefly in 2020 in the case where Hall was sued by Logos, the company that claimed Hall had failed to pay for campaign materials. Court filings show Hollin filed a motion asking that the $7,100 judgment against Hall be set aside and when that effort failed, Hollin filed an appeal on Hall's behalf to get the case thrown out. Hollin also is named in court records as having been party to the agreed order on Hall's behalf that led to the case being dismissed. And, court records also show that Hollin paid Hall's court fees.

In sworn testimony before the Board of Ethical Conduct, Hall insisted that he had never paid for that legal work, nor had he ever been billed by Hollin.

Jonathan Hall at Metro Board of Ethical Conduct

Murray Philip questioned whether it was appropriate for Hollin, who as a lobbyist has represented clients before the Metro Council, to be representing a Metro Councilmember and not charging him.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates reached out to Hollin about the possible conflict of interest and whether he had charged Hall for his legal work in the case and Hollin told us the Tennessee Supreme Court's rules that govern attorneys prevented him from commenting or speaking about the case or his representation of Hall.

In the end, the Board decided that whether Hall should have reported any of these items was a moot point since the bigger issue was that Hall had failed to file the reports this information would have been a part of.

Hall acknowledged he had not turned in the reports but insisted he is working on it. He called it a "daunting task" and claimed it was difficult because he has ADHD. He said he tried to file some of the reports online but had technical problems.

But one board member pushed back and asked what he had done since discovering that the reports had not uploaded properly. Hall responded he knew he could get a paper copy of the form, and once completed, could submit it to the Metro Clerk's Office.

But, Murray Philip then angrily turned to Hall and pointed out that he'd raised concerns nearly a year ago about Hall's lack of timely and complete filing of both financial and campaign finance disclosures and yet, Hall has not filed any of the missing reports or added the missing information to any of this yet.

The board then voted unanimously to recommend the Metro Council issue a public censure of Hall, the councilman grabbed his belongings and quickly left the meeting room.

Hall told the board he has no plans to seek re-election and will be leaving the Council at the end of his current term.

Hall still is facing a $360,000 fine by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance for failing to turn in campaign financial disclosures and failing to provide all of the required information on them. The state board imposed the fine at its meeting last month after Hall failed to show up. He said Monday he's notified the Registry that he'd like to appeal its decision and that the case will be heard later this month.