Mayor running for Congress, former sheriff running for legislature squabble in hallway, exchange insults afterwards

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who is running for a seat in Congress,  and former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchinson, who is running for a seat in the state House, had a heated exchange when they crossed paths in Knoxville’s City-County building recently, reports the News Sentinel.

The May 10 incident was caught on a security camera video, but without any audio. The two men offer differing accounts of the verbal exchange, though both say it included anonymous emails about Burchett and his stepson. The two have a political history: Burchett defeated Hutchinson in the 2010 mayor’s race.

Hutchison says the mayor “blew up” at him with accusations of helping in a smear campaign and had to be pulled away by officers. Burchett says he kept his cool and did nothing more than defend his family.

“It is beyond explanation why at least one of my opponents is going to such lengths to trash my family that he will coordinate his efforts with a former sheriff who was kicked out of office,” Burchett said in a statement Friday. “Hutchison draws a large taxpayer-funded pension. You’d think he had better things to do than spend his time smearing my family.”

…Hutchison says the mayor “blew up” at him with accusations of helping in a smear campaign and had to be pulled away by officers. Burchett says he kept his cool and did nothing more than defend his family.

“It was bizarre,” Hutchison wrote in an email to the News Sentinel. “I have not seen anyone blow up completely out of control screaming like that since I was an officer on the street dealing with drunks. … I advised him any work I did as a licensed (private investigator) I could not divulge the client or any details. … He (started) asking about purged records in Loudon County … (I) tried to walk away from him at least twice but he stepped in front of me both times, and he had to be dragged away by two officers, as you can see in the video.”

“Tim Hutchison is a liar, and Knox County voters know it,” Burchett said. “My dad always said that a man who doesn’t defend his family isn’t much of a man. I made it very clear to him that I was not happy, but I never screamed, and the video shows that, as evidenced by the fact that no one passing by in the immediate vicinity appeared to give any notice to our conversation.”

Burchett says Hutchison stopped him “and began apologizing for digging up and spreading around information on my family … and said he didn’t know it was my family.”

“I corrected him and said, ‘You mean my stepson? That’s inexcusable. That’s not true, you knew exactly what you were doing. You aren’t anyone’s messenger boy.’ He got irate and replied with, ‘Well, you dug up all that information on me and got the bank examiners after me.’ … Some deputies took notice of our conversation and suggested we part ways. I walked away with my human resources manager at my side and a single deputy several steps behind us, as you can clearly see.”

… Hutchison insists he was the victim.

“I have never had a bank examiner or anyone else look at me or my finances!!!” he wrote. “It’s just typical Burchett making something up to make whomever he is mad at look bad. … All I did was walk up to him and say hello.”

The newspaper’s description of what is seen on the video:  The men crowd each other as fingers point in what appears to be an animated discussion before they separate. As some bystanders’ heads turn, three uniformed Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputies walk up and intervene, but no one gets dragged away.

Note: Related previous post HERE.

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