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Great Recession Misery Profiteer: Governor Haslam Failed to Disclose Pawn Shop Chain Investment

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-15-11 08:33 AM
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Great Recession Misery Profiteer: Governor Haslam Failed to Disclose Pawn Shop Chain Investment

Tennessee Governor and Great Recession Misery Profiteer Bill Haslam

Haslam unloads backing of loan
Governor transfers $5.5M guarantee to Knoxville land developer
5:39 AM, Aug. 15, 2011

Gov. Bill Haslams stake in a multimillion-dollar loan guarantee was sold to a prominent Knoxville developer three days after a report by The Tennessean uncovered the original transaction.

In 2009, while he was mayor of Knoxville, Haslam personally guaranteed a loan of up to $5.5 million to local developer Budd Cullom. The arrangement was never plainly listed on Haslams annual ethics disclosure forms and the governor said it was not required.

When questioned about the arrangement in June, Haslam said he did nothing wrong and he had tried to comply with the disclosure requirements. But three days after the story was published, records show, he assigned the loan to another prominent Knoxville developer.

Haslam also amended his 2009 ethics form last week to reflect the multimillion-dollar sale of his stake in a national pawnshop chain. The transaction was omitted on his original form filed with the state Ethics Commission. One of Haslams first acts as governor was to roll back disclosure requirements, so its unknown how much he earned from selling his stock in EZ Corp, a Texas-based company that owned two pawnshops in Knoxville.

Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said the governor could not comment on the loan transaction because his investments are managed by a blind trust. Also, weve said before he was never very involved in day-to-day management even before the blind trust was established, Smith said.

However, the chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party criticized Haslam for showing a lack of transparency.

Since coming into office, he has failed to be open with citizens about his finances, Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. Even after the media caught him breaking the rules two months ago, he is still withholding information about this fishy, inside loan guarantee he gave to a Knoxville buddy.


Form amended
In June, Haslam told The Tennessean he intended to amend his 2009 form to reflect income he received from selling his EZ Corp stock. He said the omission was an oversight. After an inquiry from the newspaper last week, Haslam followed through and amended the form on Wednesday.

EZ Corp purchased Value Financial Services in late 2008. In previous years, Haslam had disclosed his stake in Value Financial Services on his ethics forms, though he sometimes listed the stock merely as VFS.

Shortly after taking office, Haslam rolled back disclosure requirements so that he and other officials had to list sources of income but not corresponding dollar figures. That decision has brought criticism from Democratic Party leaders, who say the result is less transparency for state government.

This reeks of failed leadership, questionable judgment and unethical behavior, Forrester said.

(more at above listed hyperlink)
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