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New audit raises more questions about Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron's campaign spending

Bill Ketron
Bill Ketron
Posted at 2:06 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 15:06:21-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new audit raises even more questions about how Rutherford County mayor Bill Ketron spent his campaign money.

The latest financial inquiry ordered by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance looked at Ketron's spending in 2018 and early 2019 from his campaign account during his successful run for mayor of Rutherford County. The board received the audit findings at their meeting Wednesday.

The audit found Ketron failed to properly report more than $100,000 in contributions and expenditures. Of that, auditors say Ketron failed to report more than $66,000 that he spent while he also claimed more than $14,000 in expenditures that "appeared to never have happened," and were "never paid and never owed." The audit also indicates that more than $43,000 in expenses were filed with no supporting documentation.

Auditors also discovered that Ketron accepted nearly $15,000 in campaign money while he was a state senator and the General Assembly was in session which is not allowed.

This all comes after state auditors found nearly a quarter of a million dollars missing from two other campaign accounts belonging to Ketron. One was his senate campaign account and the other was for the political action committee he ran while in the Senate, known as Quest. Ketron served in the Tennessee Senate for many years before being elected County Mayor of Rutherford County.

Like the latest audit, the two previous audits also found reported payments that never actually happened as well as overstated expenses and dozens of expenditures with no receipts or invoices.

Ketron's daughter, Kelsey, served as her father's campaign treasurer on all of the accounts and he has said that he trusted her to manage them. She was arrested in 2019 and charged with stealing more than $60,000 from the accounts. Those charges however were later dismissed as part of a plea deal.

The registry ordered the three audits of Ketron's political accounts last year after NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about how Ketron had spent campaign money after he repeatedly failed to file required spending reports with the state.

Ketron's lawyer told registry members that his client was with him listening by phone to Wednesday's meeting. Ketron though did not say anything himself.

He has in the past insisted that he "never intentionally used funds donated to my campaigns for my own personal gain."

Ketron is set to appear before the registry at its meeting in April to discuss the findings of all three audits. He will be given an opportunity to address the board before members determine what, if any, civil penalty Ketron might face.

He already owes the registry $80,000 in fines for failing to file required spending reports for his campaign and PAC several years ago.