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VOL. 41 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 03, 2017
Audit: Ex-lawmaker Durham failed to report $36K in contributions
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Registry of Campaign Finance has informed expelled state Rep. Jeremy Durham that he faces potential fines for failing to report more than $36,000 in contributions and more than $51,000 in expenditures.
The alleged reporting violations are detailed in a Feb. 28 letter to Durham, a Franklin Republican who lost his re-election bid last year following an attorney general's report that detailed a series of claims of sexual harassment.
Examples of alleged violations include Durham reporting only $1,500 of a $3,000 check from auto dealer and prominent GOP donor Lee Beaman, and $1,000 of a $6,000 check from John and Cathy Simmonds.
John Simmonds, the former CEO of Southeast Financial Credit Union, and Durham both wrote letters to a federal judge in 2015 seeking lenient sentencing for a former youth minister convicted of child porn possession and statutory rape of a 16-year-old parishioner.
The letter was first reported by The Tennessean newspaper. It alleges that Durham failed to report $51,140 in campaign expenditures. It also says the former lawmaker did not properly itemize nearly $76,000 in other expenses, including a total of more than $3,000 at Puckett's barbeque restaurant; $2,300 at the Franklin City Club; and $805 at Morton's steak house.
One expense not itemized was an October 2015 payment of $200 to the 21st District Drug Court. No further details are given.
Prosecutors in 2014 sought charges against Durham after drug task force investigators from that district said the lawmaker falsified prescriptions. Durham denied he had committed fraud and said at the time that he was vindicated by the grand jury ultimately declining to return an indictment.
Durham had refused to confirm that there had been an investigation until after the file was released to The Associated Press under the state public records law in December 2015.
The letter from the campaign finance registry gives Durham until May 1 to respond in writing, followed by a hearing scheduled for June 14.
Durham's attorney, Peter Strianse, tried unsuccessfully to block the public release of the audit until his client gets a chance to dispute the findings.
"You've not heard the other side," Strianse said at a Registry meeting last month. "What is the remedy if after the show-cause hearing that you find there have been ... significant errors and misapprehensions contained in the report?"
The audit covered campaign finance activity between January 2013 and August 2016.