COOKEVILLE, Tenn. [July 22, 1998] -- District Attorney General Bill Gibson should resign because he has again misused public money for improper purposes, Jerry Burgess said Wednesday.
Burgess, who opposes Gibson for Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney General in next month's election, said he had an ethical responsibility to forward to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility an article by c.d. 'Sonny Boy' norman [Putnam Pit, July 22, 1998] reporting that Gibson used money from the Economic Crime Fund to fulfill a campaign pledge. The story pointed out that Gibson promised while campaigning for his party's nomination to donate money he otherwise would have spent on yard signs to purchase materials for Putnam County schools from Child Lures. Instead, Gibson had Putnam County's trustee pay for the material with funds specifically set aside to fight economic crime.
On May 19, a Putnam Pit search of records at the Putnam County
Trustee's Office turned up documents showing Gibson spent public money
from his Economic Crime Fund -- not campaign funds -- to buy 250 copies
of the Child Lures Family Guide.
Michael Knowlton, who is challenging Democrat Gibson as an independent in the August election, said
Gibson's use of the economic crime funds is deceitful, illegal and "sick."
Knowlton said that Tennessee forbids the use of the fund for purposes
other than those specified in by
"It takes a sick individual to use kids for political gain," Knowlton said, "and it's deceitful to say
you're going to donate money from your campaign to help kids then take it out of the crime fund."
Burgess, the Republican contender for Gibson's job, said he wants the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility to answer the ethical question.
"What shocks me is that he took money that was in trust, and he is the person who directs its use. If the money has a specific purpose, and apparently it does, then isn't this a serious ethics violation?" Burgess asked in a telephone interview with The Putnam Pit.
Burgess said that Gibson claimed to use personal money, but didn't.
"I think the man should resign. This smells bad."
The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility fields complaints about state lawyers, and administers the disciplinary system that can lead to sanctions or revocation of a lawyer's license to practice law.
"It looks to me that this should be investigated," Burgess reiterated. "Ignorance is no excuse for an ethics violation."
Gibson refuses to be interviewed by The Putnam Pit.