published Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Probes target elections officer

The Tennessee Election Commission has forwarded allegations of financial impropriety in the Marion County elections office to a civil judge.

The TBI also has been asked to reopen a related 2009 criminal investigation, officials said.

After an informal hearing Tuesday, state election commissioners voted to seek a "show cause" hearing before an administrative law judge concerning Marion County Elections Administrator Holly Henegar.

On Wednesday, 12th Judicial District Attorney Mike Taylor said he has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look again at what he called "allegations concerning payment of funds for poll workers and so forth."

Mrs. Henegar declined to comment Wednesday, and her attorney, John Ray Clemmons, of Nashville, did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Taylor said the TBI last year looked into allegations of improper payments to poll workers but "didn't find anything criminal."

But on Feb. 1, an election commission worker filed a complaint with the state Division of Elections. The complaint mentioned the 2009 investigation into "wrong doings concerning the payroll" and included a list of names identified as Mrs. Henegar's children, family and friends that the writer said was not given to the TBI.

Mr. Taylor said the "new allegations" prompted him to ask that the case be reopened.

State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said Wednesday that a hearing before an administrative law judge tentatively is scheduled for March 23 in Nashville.

"These are some serious allegations that have been made," Mr. Goins said.

He said that, after hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence, the election commission will vote on whether to decertify or otherwise discipline Mrs. Henegar.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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