NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New photos and emails from inside Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk's office are renewing questions about whether government resources were used to help get the boss re-elected.
This comes as state and local auditors are gearing up to investigate other questions about the use of taxpayer dollars uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
The photos of assistant DA Sunny Eaton's desk — taken by an office insider during last spring's district attorney election — show a stack of domestic violence dockets for cases that had been handled by Funk challenger Sara Beth Myers.
A yellow note on the top of the documents includes the handwritten note "DV dockets w/ SBM." The docket sheets themselves include Myers' handwritten notes on how she had disposed of domestic violence cases that had been assigned to her.
The photos were taken during a campaign when domestic violence was the primary focus of one virtual forum. At that forum, Funk brought in members of his team to help answer the questions, drawing an accusation from Myers that Funk had violated the state's Little Hatch Act by using office resources for his campaign.
Metro Council member Dave Rosenberg, a veteran campaign strategist who supported Myers during her run for DA, questioned what Funk knew about an office employee's research into one of his political opponents.
Eaton's job at the DA's Office is to review old convictions, looking for murders and other big cases where defendants may have been wrongfully accused.
"I'd ask whether he was aware this was going on, what its purpose might be and what they were seeking to uncover and what they may have found," Rosenberg said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates sent the photos to Funk and his team, hoping for an explanation. They have not disputed the photos, nor have they offered an explanation.
We asked Dave Rosenberg, "Does this raise potential concerns?"
"If it were something that were done for political reason," he answered, "that certainly would be in violation of the Little Hatch Act. I don't know that that's the case though. I would just want to know why they were doing this and why it happened to be now."
This follows an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation that showed DA office employees working the polls for the boss, in some cases, taking vacation time only after we started asking questions.
Sources also provided us with internal office documents where people on the DA's staff calculated their conviction rates, including pending cases in light blue, dismissed cases in yellow. Then, they calculated conviction rates without including those cases.
The more glowing stats were the numbers used in the campaign.
"It's not the most honest way of going about it," Rosenberg said.
"I mean, if you take out the difficult cases that you weren't going to win and only include the ones that you should have won and talk about your conviction rates, that's not nearly as impressive. It's a campaign tactic."
The final product, emailed using government computers to a member of Funk's campaign team, detailed a list of the office's accomplishments — something Rosenberg admits any government office is likely to do.
"They want to be able to talk about where they are having successes, where they like what they are doing, where they might see room for improvement," he continued.
"But when you get to the end and there is the campaign logo at the top, a campaign document, then it changes the color of the whole thing and makes the whole thing feel like it's campaign-related."
At the top of the document was a QR code that we checked in front of Rosenberg, who immediately shook his head.
"Campaign website," he observed.
It opened up to VoteGlennFunk.com.
"Yeah, that means this is campaign work."
That despite a longstanding DA office policy that states "employees may not take part in organized political activity during working hours and office supplies and equipment cannot be used for political activity."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So the fact that they are doing this using government resources, what is your reaction to that?"
Rosenberg responded, "If somebody suggested that I do that in office, I would decline to do it using public resources."
NewsChannel 5 also asked Funk about claims by office insiders that they felt pressured to work the polls for the boss, that the requests sometimes came from the DA himself, that campaign sign-up sheets were kept right there in the government office.
The DA did not respond to those questions either.
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