Sheriff Wayne Anderson, left, and Ty Boomershine. Times-News file photos.
Allegations made by a former Sullivan County police officer turned political opponent of Sheriff Wayne Anderson have been investigated, with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation finding the incumbent did not misappropriate county resources during his re-election campaign.
According to a Wednesday morning press release from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, Anderson was notified on Tuesday that he had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing. In March, the TBI launched a probe into claims against Anderson.
The allegations were brought to the Sullivan County District Attorney's Office and leveled by Ty Boomershine, a county commissioner, former SCSO officer and Republican primary challenger for sheriff. Boomershine was ultimately defeated in May's primary, garnering 41.35 percent of the vote to Anderson's 58.65 percent.
In his letter, which was obtained by the Times-News in mid-March, Boomershine outlined the alleged offenses. They centered on a flier advertising a late-November fund-raising event for Anderson's campaign.
The materials requested that invitees RSVP for the event, providing as points of contact the main number of the sheriff's office and Anderson's Sullivan County e-mail.
More than 130 of the fliers were reportedly mailed. Boomershine contends that by using the sheriff's office contact information, Anderson misused the publicly supported department to support his candidacy — which under Tennessee Code constitutes theft of services.
When contacted by the Times-News at the time the allegations became public, Anderson confirmed that the sheriff's office contact information was listed on the flier. He said it was included "totally by accident" — adding that he should have caught the error while reviewing a copy of the material from a local printer prior to it being mailed.
According to Anderson, it was not Boomershine who first brought the matter to the attention of the district attorney. He says that he personally spoke to Sullivan County District Attorney Gen. Barry Staubus back in early November, shortly after the fliers began arriving in mailboxes.
"It really upset me," said Anderson of SCSO contact information included in the materials. "I've been running (campaigns) 16 years and this has never happened."
Anderson said he was not aware of any responses that the materials solicited to his county e-mail account, or calls to the SCSO main number. His home address was also included on the materials, while Anderson says he conducts most of his online communications through Facebook.
When Boomershine brought the allegations to Staubus, he immediately passed them along to a district attorney in another jurisdiction. He cited his relationship with both Anderson and Boomershine as the reason for doing so.
Sevier County Assistant District Attorney Brownlee Marsh then contacted the TBI to investigate. Staubus said that on Tuesday he was contacted by Marsh's office as a courtesy, with it relaying that a TBI agent assigned to the case found no evidence of criminal behavior on behalf of Anderson.
"I feel this was nothing more than a plot from the beginning to try and destroy not only my character but the character of my officers," Anderson told the media on Wednesday.
Anderson's win in the Republican primary means he will be the GOP nominee for sheriff on the county general election ballot in August. There he will face John Taylor, who was the sole candidate for the Democratic nomination on that party's primary.