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Controversies taint local GOP campaigns

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This election year has been rife with controversy from residency issues to sexual harassment allegations.

The latest in the string of controversies centers around where exactly Tennessee House of Representatives 37th District Republican primary candidate Richard Garvin lives.

"I do live inside the district," Garvin said, adding he was raised in Murfreesboro and went to college in Arkansas. Since returning from college in 2006, he has lived at various addresses in Smyrna.

According to documents from the Rutherford County Election Commission, Garvin changed his address from Riverbend Drive in Murfreesboro to Arborbend Drive in 2009, Que Creek Circle in 2010 and, finally, Ken Pilkerton Drive, all in Smyrna, this year, shortly before announcing his candidacy for the newly created 37th House District. The Ken Pilkerton Drive address is the only one in the district.

To complicate matters, Garvin listed various Smyrna addresses, like Shadowood Drive and Que Creek Circle, on applications for Smyrna Historic Zoning Commission, Stormwater Advisory Committee and Planning Commission, as well as on the Smyrna representative on the Linebaugh Library Board.

Serving on boards and commissions with a false address is a serious matter.

In 2000, former County Commissioner Steve Johns was indicted on three counts of official misconduct and one count of illegal voter registration after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation presented evidence he voted in and represented a district where he didn't live.

Garvin explained he hasn't lived in Murfreesboro since 2006 and the Riverbend Drive address is where his father lives.

"I didn't live there long after graduation (from college)," he said, adding he thinks the whispering campaign is a tactic by his opposition to discredit him.

"I've known about these documents," he said. "I think it's a strategy to get me out of the race."

It was a strategy used on another Republican candidate earlier this year when it was revealed Republican Road Superintendent candidate Greg Brooks may have been living in Rutherford County since 2004, yet voting in Franklin County.

Documents obtained from the Rutherford and Franklin counties Election Commissions in February showed Brooks voted in two elections in Franklin County since moving to Rutherford County, which could be illegal.

Brooks changed his voter registration in October 2011, making his legal residence Rutherford County.

The voting history check by the Rutherford County Republican Party also called Brooks' GOP credibility into question and, in turn, his eligibility as a primary candidate for road superintendent.

"I am, indeed, a bona fide Republican," Greg Brooks said in response to the allegations. He added he has complied with state laws to be a registered voter in Rutherford County.

The controversy didn't stop Brooks from winning the Republican primary, which put him on Thursday's Rutherford County general election ballot.

Another Republican candidate who has seen his own share of controversies is Property Assessor Bill Boner.

His troubles started with allegations from two female employees who claimed they were fired in retaliation for complaining about being sexually harassed.

The discrimination complaints filed by former employees Kathy Dumm, 54, and Janie Zumbro, 70, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Nashville were dismissed because the commission said it didn't have the jurisdiction to rule on the allegations.

An attorney for the women said earlier this month the case isn't over yet because the women, and six others, are considering filing new charges.

In a separate incident, Boner's Democrat challenger, Rob Mitchell, filed a complaint July 10 with the Murfreesboro Police Department about the removal of a campaign banner, which was hanging in front of Premiere 6 Theater.

Mitchell reported to police someone had taken his sign down, "ripped a hole in it and ripped the hooks out of it." The banner was valued at $200.

A press release for Cooke & Grace Properties, which owns Jackson Heights Plaza, said Boner is the manager of the strip mall "and has the authority to remove any temporary signs or banners from the property."

Mitchell then followed up with police July 13 and requested a criminal summons be issued against Boner.

Controversies like these are common in election years, especially during primary and contested races. Issues like these have been light on the Democratic side, likely because of a lack of contested primaries. But that all may change during the state and national election in November when Republicans and Democrats will compete for several offices.
Read more from:
Bill Boner, BJ Smotherman, Dawn White, Elections, GOP, Greg Brooks, Politics, Property Assessors Office, Richard Garvin, Rob Mitchell
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Members Opinions:
July 30, 2012 at 11:25am
Lying and distraction is just what the self-proclaimed "party of values" does. In reality, they proudly eat their own young, ostracize loyal party members for minor slip ups, and discriminate against non-whites and non-Christians.

Being a Republican today requires a purity test, esuring that only white Christian males and wealthy females need bother participating in the system. It's what is going to lose them an eminantly winnable election for the White House this November.
July 30, 2012 at 11:59am
From the text of Zealotry 101
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