A TBI investigation is underway into two mayors who the News4 I-Team found were pocketing money that critics argue should have gone back to their own cities and counties.
A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman confirmed District Attorney Jennings Jones requested that an investigation be launched into Cannon County Mayor Mike Gannon and Woodbury Mayor Andy Duggin.
Gannon, Duggin and Livingston Mayor Curtis Hayes were the subjects of a News 4 I-Team investigation that showed how they were pocketing mileage reimbursement money from a government agency instead of forwarding it to their cities and counties.
The three mayors are on the board for the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, which reimburses its board members for mileage when they drive personal vehicles and use their own gas money to attend meetings.
The News4 I-Team found Hayes and Duggin leaving a UCHRA meeting in city or county-owned vehicles, and the Cannon County attorney confirmed Gannon was once investigated for driving a county vehicle while keeping the reimbursements and ultimately stopped the practice.
There is no record of any of the three mayors ever passing along the reimbursement money to their cities or counties.
The News4 I-Team documented how we researched the story when a local paper called our findings “Fake News.”
“This is one of the biggest debacles I've ever seen in terms of taxpayer money and basically fraud,” said Mark Cunningham, communications director for the Beacon Center, a taxpayer watchdog group.
“They're driving cars that are driven by taxpayers, gas that's paid for by taxpayers, and then they're reimbursing themselves from another government agency to take care of that. It's clearly wrong,” he said.
The TBI investigation is for the time being only focusing on Gannon and Duggin because Hayes’ lives outside of the prosecutor’s district.
Bryant Dunaway, the district attorney for Overton County, said he is considering asking the TBI to investigate Hayes as well.
Dunaway confirmed he is also reviewing the findings from a News4 I-Team investigation into Luke Collins, the former executive director of UCHRA, to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
Among other findings into his time sheets and use of an agency vehicle, we found there was no proof of him attending conferences and out of town meetings, even though he was paid to attend them and received reimbursements.
“No government agency should have this many problems,” Cunningham said.
Gannon is already the subject of another TBI investigation into his knowledge of anonymous threatening letters being sent to his female critics.
“This is what leads to distrust in government,” Cunningham said.
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