Cannon County newspaper calls I-Team story ‘fake news’ - WSMV News 4

Cannon County newspaper calls I-Team story ‘fake news’

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WOODBURY, TN (WSMV) -

A headline in the Cannon Courier newspaper reports that a county attorney has responded to what the publication refers to as “Finley’s fake news.”

The article then goes on to cite a statement written by UCHRA attorney Daniel Rader explaining the use of per diems from the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

The article is in response to an investigation by the News4 I-Team that raised questions if local mayors, including Woodbury Mayor Andy Duggin and Cannon County Mayor Mike Gannon, were accepting reimbursements for attending UCHRA meetings while they were driving city vehicles, but failed to then provide those reimbursement dollars back to their own county or city.

While the News4 I-Team was not asked by the newspaper for comment, we’d like you to know how we conducted our research.

The article first claimed that we provided no evidence to indicate that the mayors were pocketing the money.

We not only began our research by obtaining the mayors’ reimbursement checks for the last three years but also, in Gannon’s case, confirmed through UCHRA’s human resource department that he also received reimbursements from at least 2011 from that agency.

We then sought out proof that Gannon had, in fact, been driving a county vehicle while receiving the reimbursement checks, which was confirmed in an email by Cannon County attorney Mike Corley.

Corley then verified by email that Gannon has never passed along any reimbursement money to Cannon County.

When we wanted to ask Gannon about why he drove a county vehicle and received reimbursements but never passed that money on to his county, he directed our questions to Daniel Rader.

Along with being UCHRA’s attorney, he is also representing Gannon in the TBI’s investigation into his knowledge of his female critics receiving anonymous, threatening letters

Rader responded to our request for an explanation by saying only represents Gannon in the TBI investigation and could not respond to any other inquiry.

In Duggin’s case, when three sources confirmed that he was routinely driving or riding in a city vehicle to UCHRA meetings, we set out to confirm it for ourselves.

On Dec. 19. 2017, we obtained video of Duggin getting into a county vehicle, driven by a county employee, and then later verified that Duggin received a reimbursement check for that date.

The city of Woodbury confirmed that Duggin has never paid the city for any reimbursement from UCHRA.

When we asked Duggin for an interview to discuss why he had cashed the check by not passed it along to the city, he declined to talk on camera.

We did report that Duggin told us over the phone that he drives a personal vehicle to Cookeville where the UCHRA meetings are held to visit his son, and then has the city vehicle pick him up and take him to the meeting and later drive him back to his personal vehicle.

When asked why Duggin has the city employee, Shane Gannon, drive the city vehicle from Cookeville to the meeting, Duggin said that he thought Shane Gannon needed to attend the meetings.

Shane Gannon is the city’s public works director, and the UCHRA focuses on providing human resource needs in a 14 county region.

It should be noted, Shane Gannon’s hiring was the subject of this News4 I-Team investigation into whether his cousin, Mike Gannon, used his influence to secure him a job.

Duggin then told us he has since quit the UCHRA board.

In Rader’s statement that appeared in the article, at no point did he refer to anything the News4 I-Team reported as incorrect or “fake news,’ nor has he or the acting director of the agency disputed our findings.

In the last paragraph of the article, the newspaper states that “no taxpayer money has been provided to them for making the trips to Cookeville.”

That is certainly true, for the mayors are not paid to attend the meetings.

The reimbursements they received, however, are paid with tax dollars.

If anyone from the Cannon County newspaper would like to contact the News4 I-Team to respond to their claims, our phone number is 615-353-2241.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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