Three current and former aldermen in Woodbury said they believe Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon used his influence to help his cousin get a taxpayer-funded job in the city.
It’s the latest development in a News 4 I-Team investigation that exposed how Gannon had knowledge that anonymous, threatening letters were being sent to some of his female critics.
After obtaining the anonymous letters that Gannon discussed in the audio, the I-Team began to investigate the circumstances discussed in those letters.
One of the letters, written to Woodbury Alderman Dotty Duggin, mentioned the events of the September 2016 meeting of the Woodbury City Council.
Gannon arrived for that meeting, which was held to only debate city, not county issued.
Alderman Faye Northcutt-Knox and former alderman Charlie Harrell both said they had never seen Gannon at a Woodbury City Council meeting before.
Northcutt-Knox said he saw Gannon, Alderman Adam Melton and former mayor Harold Patrick walk down the hallway together that leads to the council chamber.
“Walk out of the mayor's office. My first thought was, huh, that's odd,” Northcutt-Knox said.
Among the items on the agenda was the hiring of the Woodbury public works director. A selection committee had already recommended Ray Hunt, a longtime city employee. Also in the running for the job: Shane Gannon, Mike Gannon’s cousin.
The published qualifications for the job included that the applicant must hold or obtain a state license to operate the water and sewer plant.
Hunt had the license and already operated the city’s water treatment plant.
Notes from that meeting indicated the city preferred to promote from within when a position opened.
Gannon did work for the Murfreesboro water department but didn’t have a license, and disclosed on his application that he’d pleaded guilty to a DUI in 2009.
In the audio of the meeting, Duggin can be heard making the recommendation from the committee to hire Hunt.
"Mr. Hunt was the most qualified," Duggin said.
But when it came to vote, Melton, who was on the committee that recommended Hunt, voted no.
The council ultimately voted not to hire Hunt, but instead Shane Gannon.
“I thought what the heck - here we are with someone licensed hiring someone not licensed,” Harrell said.
“I was sitting there, thinking, I cannot believe this just happened. Mike got up and left soon after. He did not stay for the complete meeting,” Northcutt-Knox said. “That's when it occurred to me – that's why Mike Gannon was there.”
Duggin, Harrell and Northcutt-Knox all said their suspicions about Mike Gannon’s involvement in his cousin’s hiring grew after Duggin received a threatening, anonymous letter in her mailbox.
The letter began reading, “If I were you, I would stop criticizing the three alderman who voted against Ray Hunt.”
The letter went on to threaten to expose what Duggin said is a false claim about why she left a prior job.
The end of the letter threatened, “I can prove it. I will use it.”
The I-Team then obtained audio of a meeting between Melton and Mike Gannon, where they discuss letters being sent to female critics of the county executive, including Duggin.
“Boy it sure shut Dotty up. It sure did,” Melton said in the audio.
“Do you know who mailed the letter?” Mike Gannon said.
“Hell, don’t know. Don’t want to know,” Melton said.
That audio, the anonymous letter and the arrival of Mike Gannon at the meeting, all lead the three alderman to the same conclusion.
“Is there any doubt in your mind that Mike Gannon helped his relative get a job with the city?” the I-Team asked.
“Not at all,” Harrell said.
When the I-Team caught up with Mike Gannon to ask about the aldermen’s claim, we thought that Shane Gannon was actually his nephew.
Did you have anything to do with your nephew being hired in Woodbury?" the I-Team asked.
"No. He's not my nephew," Mike Gannon said.
“What relative is he to you?" asked the I-Team.
"No comment,” Mike Gannon said.
Reached by phone, Shane Gannon said he preferred that we direct our questions to the people who hired him.
We repeatedly attempted to reach out to Melton but were unsuccessful.
Former mayor Harold Patrick said Mike Gannon never spoke to him about why the city should hire his cousin.
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