published Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Publisher calls Sen. Mae Beavers' $50,000 an investment in Macon County Chronicle, not loan

  • photo
    Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, describes her bill seeking to add more offenses to the state's methamphetamine offender registry during a Senate floor session in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — The publisher of the Macon County Chronicle in court documents is disputing assertions made by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, that she owes the lawmaker principal and interest on a $50,000 loan used to purchase the newspaper.

Rather, Kathryne Belle alleges in her Wilson County Chancery Court response there was no loan and that Beavers had joined an investors group and "invested" the money in the newspaper on May 26, 2010.

"This investment was funded through a cashier's check issued by Cedarstone Bank, payable to Main Street Media LLC from Choice Community Newspapers LLC," Belle's attorneys state in their response, filed Tuesday.

"Co-plaintiff Mae Beavers delivered said cashier's check to Defendant Belle for the specific purpose of investing in the venture and to make payment of the May 21, 2010 installment [payment] due to Main Street Media for purchase of the Macon County Chronicle," the filing says.

It also alleges that Lou Ann Zelnick, a Republican who made a failed 2010 primary bid in the 6th Congressional District, "invested" $36,000 in the newspaper venture as well.

Former Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, recently contended in a posting on her Facebook page that the loan or investment came about the time the newspaper began attacking her in her bitter 2010 GOP Senate primary battle with Beavers.

Lynn also has questioned whether the $50,000 payment was an investment rather than a loan.

Speaking to the Times Free Press Monday night, Beavers, the powerful chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the lawsuit a "personal matter."

Asked about suggestions the money was not a loan but an investment, Beavers said, "I don't believe that's what the lawsuit said."

Beavers said "yes" when asked if the $50,000 was intended as a loan.

Meanwhile, Beavers on Monday filed an amended Statement of Interests form with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. Her original State of Interests form, filed Jan. 30, did not mention the loan or the 6 percent her lawsuit cites as interest under the category "sources of income."

Included in Belle's response to the suit, her attorneys, Keith Williams and James R. Stocks, served notice that they intend to take depositions from Beavers, her husband, Zelnick and Cook.

Beavers is represented by attorney John I. Harris III, who also is the executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. The group lobbies the General Assembly on gun issues.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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