Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron will appear before state election officials on April 14 on accusations that he violated multiple state campaign finance laws.
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance Board met Wednesday, Feb. 10 and formally accepted the results of the final of three audits of Ketron’s accounts – this time for his county mayoral campaign.
The board on Dec. 7 had formally accepted the results for two other audits – Ketron’s senate and Quest leadership PAC accounts, ruling that there were “serious findings” in those audits.
The board will hold a show cause hearing on April 14 for the results of all three accounts.
During the hearing Feb. 10 on the county mayoral account, board Chairman Tom Lawless recused himself from discussion on Ketron’s account. Secretary David Golden chaired that part of the hearing. Lawless is a Senate Republican Caucus appointee, according to the registry’s website.
Ketron is asking for reconsideration of about $65,000 in civil penalties, Golden said.
The mayoral campaign was audited for the period of Jan. 1, 2018-July 31, 2019. Allegations from the 91-page mayor account audit’s findings include:
• Ketron failed to provide supporting documentation for $12,925.96 in available campaign funds disclosed as the beginning balance on the 2018 First Quarter Statement.
• Ketron failed to report $44,449.57 in monetary campaign contributions, as required by state law. Included in the $44,449.57 are: $2,097 in cash or cash equivalents for which Ketron maintained no contributor records to support the source of each contributions. And, there were $800 in contributions where the disclosed amount was understated.
• Ketron failed to report $16,507.68 in campaign contributions resulting from the use of his personal credit card for campaign purchases as required by state law. Ketron also failed to report $16,507.68 in disbursements to his personal credit card, which returned those contributions.
• Ketron failed to report $14,029.30 in campaign contributions related to purchases made on the campaign’s behalf using funds from unknown sources in non-compliance with state law. Ketron failed to maintain any contributor records to support the source of the funds which appears to be non-compliant with state law.
• Ketron failed to report $19,328.98 in in-kind campaign contributions received by the mayoral campaign in non-compliance with state law.
• Ketron appears to have failed to comply with state law by accepting $14,800.85 in restricted contributions received during legislative session while serving as an elected member of the Tennessee General Assembly.
• Ketron received $8,728.98 in contributions in excess of campaign contribution limits in non-compliance with state law.
• Ketron reported $4,600 in contributions which were not received by the campaign in non-compliance with state law.
• Ketron failed to report $66,043.06 in disbursements incurred by the mayoral campaign as required by state law. Included in the unreported disbursements are $7,585.26 in disbursements that were understated and a $106.46 unreported obligation and obligation payment.
• Ketron’s disclosures reported $14,689.07 in disbursements that appear not to have occurred. The reporting of disbursements that were never paid, and may never have been owed, appears non-compliant with state law. Included in the $14,689.07 are $235 in disbursements that were overstated.
• Ketron has failed to comply with state law by failing to retain sufficient disbursement records to determine the purpose and proper disclosure of several expenditures as noted throughout the audit report. However, the audit identified $43,502.91 in specific disbursements that were unsupported and also appear to be in non-compliance with state law.
• Ketron failed to provide a supporting record for several expenses, including the $43,502.91 in expenses noted in Finding 11. In addition to those expenses, the audit identified an additional $2,512.96 incurred by the campaign for which Ketron failed to retain a receipt, invoice, or other supporting document to support the campaign purpose disclosed.
• Ketron failed to report the use of a vehicle, purchased by Mayor Ketron’s senate campaign, by the mayoral campaign and for mayoral campaign activities in non-compliance with state law. Ketron also failed to maintain records to support the use of the senate campaign purchased vehicle by the mayoral campaign to properly report and determine the expenses incurred by the mayoral account.