TBI investigates Hawkins Co. judge vote; commissioner says he was offered bribe
Aug 17, 2011 at 4:03 AM
ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Commissioner Darrell Gilliam told the Times-News Tuesday he was offered a bribe by a third party to change his vote from Buddy Baird to Jay Taylor prior to the County Commission’s July 25 meeting to appoint a new sessions judge. Several Hawkins County commissioners confirmed Tuesday that they have been interviewed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation regarding allegations of malfeasance during the sessions judge appointment process. Gilliam voted for Baird on June 27 when the commission’s first attempt to appoint a new judge ended in a 10-10 stalemate. Gilliam also voted for Baird on July 25 when Taylor won the County Commission vote 11-10. Gilliam added that he was offered a “substantial” amount of money to change his vote from Baird to Taylor the Saturday before the Monday, July 25, vote. “I was called in for questioning, and I was interviewed by the TBI, and I told them exactly what had transpired,” said Gilliam. “I was offered a bribe. I flatly refused it, and I can prove that I flatly refused it. I stuck with Buddy Baird, but I was offered a bribe.” Gilliam said he couldn’t reveal who offered the bribe, nor would he reveal the amount of money he was offered. According to commissioners contacted by the Times-News Tuesday, the TBI line of questioning has been to ask if any bribe offers were made, if there were any threats or pressure made on commissioners to sway their vote, and if they were aware of a National Crime Information Center background check being illegally conducted on Baird. When contacted by the Times-News Tuesday, Taylor denied any attempts to bribe or pressure commissioners into voting for him. He also said he has no knowledge of an NCIC background check on Baird.