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Sun, Dec 28, 2014

Harrell to divest bonding companies if elected

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Harrell to divest bonding companies if elected

Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk candidate Melissa Harrell said this week she is working out plans to divest of bonding companies she and her family own if she wins the August election.

Harrell, a Republican who captured the GOP primary in May, is owner of AAAA Bonding Co., and her mother, Rebecca, owns Buddy Harrell Bonding, a company started by her late husband.

State law, however, prohibits any direct or indirect ownership of a bonding company by a court clerk, according to an official with the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The Circuit Court clerk is responsible for overseeing bail bonding companies to make sure they meet all state guidelines, and Harrell’s continued ownership or other family connections would create a conflict of interest.

Harrell said that she has spoken with attorneys about the matter.

“If I win, I am going to be in compliance with the law,” she said. “I am going to do what’s right.”

AAAA Bonding also owes Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk’s office $30,000 in bond forfeitures dating back to 2010 and has been granted extensions, according to court documents.

Harrell said she could not comment on that matter. She did confirm that Buddy Harrell Bonding has no activity and is in the process of being closed.

“All this is being handled and worked out,” she said. “My focus is on the Circuit Court clerk, if I’m lucky enough.”

Harrell defeated incumbent Republican Laura Bohling and Lance Jenkins in the Republican primary and faces Democrat Avent Lane in the Aug. 7 county election.

The 1984 Riverdale graduate is a lifelong resident of Rutherford County. She attended MTSU but calls herself a graduate of the “school of hard knocks,” learning the bail bonding business from her father before starting her own company with her late brother, Mark Harrell, a former La Vergne High School teacher.

Harrell is also president of Discovery Investigations and owns and manages rental and commercial properties. She is a member of the Riverdale High School Parent Teacher Organization and previously served as treasurer

If elected, Harrell said she plans to make the Circuit Court clerk’s office more accessible to the public and treat all people fairly.

“I’m hoping to bring a happy atmosphere to that office to make it run more efficiently,” she said.

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