VOL. 124 | NO. 8 | Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Top 2 House Republicans Named in Ethics Complaint
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The top two Republicans in the state House have been accused of improper conduct in the 2008 campaign by a Democrat who lost re-election.
The complaint before the Tennessee Ethics Commission names Republican Reps. Jason Mumpower of Bristol and Glen Casada of Franklin, along with Casada adviser Scott Gilmer.
Former Rep. Nathan Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat, said in the filing that Mumpower and Casada authorized Gilmer to set up Web sites that appeared to be part of Vaughn's campaign in order to mislead voters about his positions. A judge issued a restraining order against Gilmer last September and the sites – www.nathanvaughn.com, www.nathanvaughn.net and www.nathanvaughn.org – were dismantled.
"For someone to purchase my domain name, and then turn around and basically build the Web site using my name and likeness to print false accusations and false impressions, that is illegal – there's no other word for it," Vaughn told The Tennessean, which obtained a copy of the complaint from his lawyer on Monday.
Ethics Commission Executive Director Bruce Androphy said state law prohibited him from confirming the complaint had been filed.
Screen shots submitted with the ethics complaint showed that one site suggested Vaughn aided corruption by voting to continue health benefits for convicted lawmakers and accused him of being a "job killer" and supporting a "pro-death agenda" on abortion.
Vaughn lost his re-election bid by 326 votes to Republican Tony Shipley. The loss helped give Republicans a one-seat majority in the House, positioning Mumpower to be elected speaker and Casada as majority leader when the General Assembly convenes Tuesday.
Mumpower dismissed Vaughn's actions as "sour grapes" and declined to discuss the specifics of the complaint.
Casada said Vaughn was trying to overshadow the GOP taking control of the House from Democrats for the first time in 40 years.
"He's bitter, and it's just a partisan attack on us," Casada said.
Besides winning the restraining order, Vaughn filed a criminal complaint against Gilmer last month alleging his actions violated state election law. The Sullivan County General Sessions clerk's office confirmed the criminal complaint to The Tennessean.
The ethics complaint also alleges that Gilmer attempted to hide his connection to two of the sites by registering them under a fake name.
Gilmer said he hadn't seen copies of Vaughn's complaints.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
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