National group questions use of funds at local historic site - WSMV Channel 4

National group questions use of funds at local historic site

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The national headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is calling for a state investigation into whether taxpayer money meant for a state Civil War museum is being spent on a property not owned by taxpayers.

The group's attorney, Randy Lucas, has written letters to the state comptroller's office and the attorney general requesting a review of spending and oversight by the trust that manages the Carter House museum in Franklin.

"Carter House is one of the finest sites commemorating one of the most tragic battles of the Civil War," said Lucas. "This is a state site. It's a priceless treasure to the state of Tennessee and we want to make sure it's managed correctly."

The Carter House and the Carnton Plantation are both managed by the Battle of Franklin Trust. Carter House is state-owned, but Carnton Plantation is not.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans hired an auditor who believes that income from Carter House - money coming in from admission prices and state grant money - is being used to pay off a mortgage at the Carnton Plantation.

"It's our belief that what they're doing is wrong," Lucas said.

Carnton Plantation borrowed $500,000 to build a visitors center. In a statement, the Battle of Franklin Trust confirmed that $100,000 for the loan was in fact paid out of the "general operations" of the trust, but told Channel 4 News that most of that income came from Carnton Plantation in the first place.

The statement goes on to say the state did not stipulate that grant money for the Carter House be held a separate account.

Lucas said the taxpayers have reason to be concerned.

"Any monies generated by it should be used to pay for that site, not to pay for another site," he said. "This is money that is designated to upkeep an incredible treasure of Tennessee history."

The management of the money is a concern, Lucas said, because the Battle of Franklin Trust is asking the state for a piece of land next to the Carter House so they can build a Carter House visitors center.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans said it wants the state to hold onto the land because there are too many questions about how the trust manages what it already has.

The Trust has asked the state's historical commission to give or lease them the land next to the Carter House, but the vote has been postponed several times.

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