Ethics complaint filed against fair board member over stadium vo - WSMV News 4

Ethics complaint filed against fair board member over stadium vote

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

Two supporters of the Nashville fairgrounds have filed an ethics complaint against a member of the fair board, Bonna Johnson.

The fair board controls what happens at the fairgrounds. The board voted in October to approve locating a stadium at the fairgrounds for a possible Major League Soccer expansion team.

Shane Smiley and former fair board chairman Neil Chaffin said there is a potential for Johnson’s paying job to influence her vote on fair board matters.

Johnson is a vice president with the Convention and Visitors Corporation. It supports the soccer stadium. Johnson’s boss, Butch Spyridon, has been pushing for it.

"I see that as a pretty big ethics issue,” Smiley said. "She is part of the group that is helping to bring this to Nashville."

Smiley and Chaffin said Johnson should have recused herself from the fair board vote and should resign now.

"I hope she has the character to resign from the fair board because of the conflict of interest,” Chaffin said.

Johnson emailed News 4 a statement, saying in part:

My employer has never tried to influence my votes as a Fair Board Commissioner, nor would I benefit financially by any votes I have taken. I have always acted independently in the best interest of the Fairgrounds and the city.

Johnson used to work in the press office under former Mayor Karl Dean, who tried to shut down the fairgrounds in 2011. His action caused a public outcry and led to a referendum where citizens voted to keep the fairgrounds intact.

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