A citizen complaint made regarding Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron’s campaign finance statements has prompted state election officials to ask the mayor for additional information.
Local political observer Joe Liggett contacted the Tennessee Ethics Commission’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance office regarding Ketron’s Statement of Disclosure of Interest. Such forms are required of candidates, who must list sources of income.
“I’m concerned that Bill Ketron left off his disclosures his (sic) 51% ownership of the insurance business and is ownership of the office condo the business operates from,” Liggett wrote. “I find it hard to believe that he does not profit from either one. I would ask that you and/or your office look into this. Thank you in advance for your help with this.”
The bureau sent Ketron a letter on Wednesday informing him questions had been asked about the matter, said Bill Young, the bureau’s executive director. The letter asked Ketron to “review your previously filed forms and the reporting requirements and amend any forms needed to reflect the correct information,” the letter said.
The bureau does not know what a candidate owns or does not own in terms of income or assets unless they report it, Young said. But once a citizen contacts the bureau with a concern, the agency sends the candidate a letter to ask if the statement needs to be amended. Young said he expects that Ketron will respond to the letter, but does not know if the mayor needs to amend any information.
A message seeking comment was left with Ketron’s office at the courthouse.
Details of Ketron’s business arrangements were disclosed during a Nov. 25 arraignment hearing for his daughter, Kelsey Ketron Randolph, as the Murfreesboro Post previously reported. Ketron Randolph pled not guilty to about 70 counts related to an investigation of her involvement in the family’s business, Universal International Insurance Agency Inc., and her role as former treasurer of her father’s campaign finance accounts.
During the arraignment in Rutherford County Circuit Court, Senior Judge Walter Kurtz asked for background on Mayor Ketron’s business dealings while trying to determine if there was a conflict of interest because Ketron Randolph’s attorney, Trey Harwell, also is representing Universal in the investigation.
Kurtz asked Harwell to give a brief history of Universal. Harwell said Bill Ketron owns 51 percent and his daughter owns the remainder. Bill Ketron’s parents founded the company, and he once split ownership 50-50 with them before Ketron Randolph became involved. The company currently has two employees, who were not named. Mayor Ketron owns the office space, Harwell said.
Harwell said he had advised both Ketrons of the potential for a conflict of interest and they had both signed waivers. Kurtz ruled there was no conflict of interest.
Young said his office still has an ongoing investigation of Mayor Ketron’s campaign finance accounts and allegedly unpaid penalties – for his former role as state senator, for his Quest political action committee and for county mayor. They hope to finish in May, but are constrained by having only two auditors on staff and because some of the documents they need are still in the possession of law enforcement from the criminal investigation.