Cookeville lawyer
On March 24, 1998, the Putnam County Grand Jury -- led by Democratic Party district attorney general and candidate for re-election, Bill Gibson, decided that Republican Assessor of Property Byron Looper must stand trial for assorted acts of official misconduct.

While holding public officials accountable is a great but new concept in Putnam County, Tenn., using public office for political and personal purposes is nothing new.

That is certainly what the Looper prosecution appears to be about.

Gibson wants to endear himself to the Good Ole Boys so they will back him in his race for D.A.

Let's suppose the Good Ole Boys want all officials in public office to perform honestly. Let me ask Mr. Gibson a question: Hypothetically, if Looper's predecessor, former Assessor of property Billy Rippetoe, had signs for his real estate business listing his public office, should he have been prosecuted?

 Talk about using the office for personal use.

In 1996 the people threw Rippetoe out because he was exposed by Byron Looper
for misconduct in office.  I guess Gibson wasn't up for election that year.
What about charges raised in The Putnam Pit about Lewis Coomer or other
public officials?  We know you read The Pit, Mr. Gibson; we know your buddy, John
Roberts, reads it too.
Looper, being the first Republican candidate elected in Putnam County since who knows when, has rocked the establishment more than any other person or entity.

The attempted destruction of Looper sends a message to those who oppose the establishment: "We will crush you.  We will single you out and attack you.  We can bring pressure on witnesses and the legal system to do what we want."

It's great to hold public officials accountable, but it's dangerous when public officials use the cloak of enforcing accountability on other officials to serve ulterior motives.

A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

[Although Samuel J. Harris frequesntly supports The Putnam Pit and is its lawyer in certain cases, he does not participate in the editorial decision making or speak for the paper. The Putnam Pit's position is stated only in editorials by Publisher Geoff Davidian]

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