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District Attorney's Wife Lands Metro Job

Nashville DA Glenn Funk Faces Ethics Complaint
Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2020-08-28 17:36:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The wife of Nashville's district attorney has a Metro government job -- thanks, in part, to her husband.

But Glenn Funk insisted that the desire for his family to get more money from taxpayers has not affected his decisions.

Lori Funk was a stay-at-home mom and part-time substitute teacher.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered that, after her husband took office last fall, she ended up with one of the most-sought-after political jobs in Metro government.

"She had expressed an interest in going to work full time and potentially even in the courthouse," Glenn Funk said.

General Sessions Judge Aaron Holt hired Lori Funk back in November for the nearly $50,000-a-year job as a court officer.

That came after her husband hired Holt's court officer, Terry Faimon, to work on his domestic violence team, creating the opening in the judge's courtroom.

"I knew Terry Faimon. I had seen his work in court, and I recruited him to come into our office," Glenn Funk said.

Faimon's resume shows that, prior to going to work as a court officer two years ago, he'd been a salesman for a local beer distributor.

But the DA never gave anyone else a chance to apply for the domestic violence job.

"It was my decision as district attorney who to hire in this office," he insisted, defending the decision not to see if anyone else with better qualifications might have expressed an interest in the position.

Once he knew that Holt would have an opening, Glenn Funk said he "facilitated" a conversation between the judge and his wife.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, "It was a political appointment that just happened to create an opening for your wife to get a job."

Glenn Funk responded: "If Judge Holt had not hired my wife, Terry Faimon was already on the job here."

But Holt's story goes back to Funk's swearing-in ceremony in late August.

The judge was there, and he tells NewsChannel 5 that he liked the new DA and his family so much that he suggested to Lori Funk that she could come to work for him if she ever needed job.

That was weeks before her husband ended up hiring Terry Faimon out of the judge's office.

"Did you ask Judge Holt to hire her?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Glenn Funk

"No," he answered.

"Did you recommend her to Judge Holt?" we continued.

"I'm not sure how much conversation we had at that point after she had the conversation with Judge Holt, but I imagine there was some conversation," the DA said. "And I give my wife my highest recommendation."

While nepotism laws make it illegal for officials to hire their own relatives, there's nothing to prohibit them from hiring each other's relatives.

In fact, it's sort of a longtime Nashville tradition.

"It's treating Metro government like a favor machine, and that's the way it used to be. And that's the politics that we thought we'd left behind," said Nashville Tea Party head Ben Cunningham.

Cunningham said it's a question of appearances -- a notion shared privately by attorneys around the courthouse who question the DA's wife playing such a prominent role in the courtroom of a judge who's supposed to stand between the prosecution and the defense.

"The fact that she's standing off to the side helping with clerical functions should not create any appearance," Glenn Funk said.

Still, the new district attorney general said he sought advice from the board that regulates the ethics of Tennessee lawyers.

And while the attorney there said having the DA's wife working for a judge would not necessarily violate any ethical rules, he cautioned: "Someone might, nonetheless, perceive a conflict."

"Wouldn't it have been better to suggest to your wife maybe you ought to get a job somewhere else?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Glenn Funk.

"I don't tell my wife where to get a job," he responded.

"Do you think she would have got this wife if you had not been the DA?" we continued.

"Whether I'm the DA or not," Glenn Funk said, "Judge Holt made an excellent choice in choosing her to work as his judicial assistant."

Our investigation discovered that Glenn Funk also hired a court officer from Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier.

Then, the judge hired Funk's longtime driver and legal assistant, Keith Haddock, based on the DA's recommendation.

Still, both men insist it was not part of any sort of swap.

NewsChannel 5's previous reporting on the court system revealed that court officers jobs are highly sought because of the money -- in this case, nearly $50,000 a year -- and because there are a lot of opportunities for short days and weeks off.

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