comptroller

Wilson won’t run for another term as comptroller. Is the fix in for Mumpower?

Comptroller Justin Wilson, second from right, presides over a State Funding Board meeting on Jan. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With about a month left in his term, Comptroller Justin Wilson has made the surprise announcement he won’t seek a seventh term. Wilson, who was first elected to the position after Republicans gained an overall majority in the General Assembly in 2008, said he is endorsing his longtime deputy Jason Mumpower to succeed him.

“While the decision is yours, I am pleased to offer Jason my full and wholehearted endorsement to serve as Tennessee’s 35th Comptroller of the Treasury,” Wilson said.

While Wilson’s support for Mumpower is unsurprising — the two often parade around the legislative office complex in matching costumes — the last-minute timing is causing some gnashing of teeth in the Cordell Hull Building. With the holiday season upon us and the ongoing pandemic wreaking havoc on government activities, the deck will be stacked against any other candidate trying to drum up support for a rival bid.

A joint convention of the House and Senate elects the comptroller, meaning the lower chamber, where there are 73 Republicans, has the numerical advantage over the 27 GOP senators.

Here is Wilson’s letter to lawmakers:

Dear Members of the 112th General Assembly,

I write to you today with a tremendous sense of pride. Tennessee is doing just great.

For the last 12 years, I have commended you, the General Assembly, for your focus on the fundamentals of our financial strength. Our state continues to provide essential services to Tennesseans while remaining committed to low taxes, low debt, and strong financial management.

Tennessee’s fiscal stability has proven critically important as we have dealt with the economic challenges and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Tennessee is well positioned for the future. As I have contemplated my own future, I have determined that now is the time for me to step aside. Although it has been my wonderful privilege to serve as your Comptroller, I will not seek a seventh term.

The General Assembly will have an important choice to make in January. I have encouraged Deputy Comptroller Jason Mumpower to seek election to the Office. While the decision is yours, I am pleased to offer Jason my full and wholehearted endorsement to serve as Tennessee’s 35th Comptroller of the Treasury.

Jason is the right person to lead our committed effort to provide independent audits, objective research, and most of all, conservative fiscal management. I know he cares deeply about our state and the Comptroller’s Office. Please join me in supporting Jason as Tennessee’s next Comptroller.

I do believe our Office is carrying out its mission to Make Government Work Better. It is a joy and an adventure to serve our state.

Sincerely, Your Beloved,

/signed/

Justin P. Wilson

Nashville mayor blasts comptroller’s letter as ‘political document’

Nashville Mayor David Briley is blasting a letter from state Comptroller Justin Wilson‘s office questioning the city’s finances as “essentially a political document.” The letter, Briley said, was instigated by Councilman John Cooper, his opponent in Nashville’s mayoral runoff next month.

“It’s my understanding that Councilman Cooper and his conservative, Republican friends on the council solicited it,” Briley said in a candidate debate Monday evening. “So he certainly should know a fair amount about it.”

The comptroller is elected by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, which has a long track record of nullifying ordinances enacted in the heavily Democratic city.

Cooper, the brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), called the letter a “big wake-up call” as Nashville’s debt has doubled over the last four years.

“The facts speak for themselves,” Cooper said. “It’s not Republican and Democratic — I’m, of course, a long-time Democrat myself — it’s dollars and cents. Are we being well-managed? Are we on it?”

Briley cited the city’s strong credit rating from Moody’s as an objective seal of approval for the Nashville’s finances.

“Our finances are, in fact, under control,” he said. “And when the final budget is assessed at the end of this year, you’ll see that our fund balances are actually up over last year.”

The runoff is on Sept. 12. Early voting is underway and runs through Sept. 7.

Report finds 109 TN school districts allow corporal punishment; legislature eyes new restrictions

A report from the state Comptroller’s Office says that 109 of the state’s 148 school districts still allow corporal punishment, though it’s rarely used in some of them. The report, requested by state legislators last year, also found that students suffering disabilities more often get corporal punishment than others.

Continue reading

Comptroller finds no major legal problems in Memphis Confederate statues maneuver

Press release from Office of the Comptroller

The Comptroller’s Office has completed a review of the City of Memphis’ December 20, 2017 sale of Health Sciences Park and the easement to Memphis Park to Memphis Greenspace, Inc.

Continue reading

Comptroller: UT sports staff violated policies in taking freebie golfing trips

Press release from state comptroller’s office

An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has revealed a number of issues related to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Sports Surface Management. These issues include trips and entertainment that were provided to UT Athletics staff by a department vendor and prospective vendor.

Continue reading

Comptroller questions TBI spending over budget, using reserves

Press release from state Comptroller’s Office:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a special report examining several aspects of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s fiscal operations, including an analysis of TBI’s budget, the procurement of its Pilatus airplane, staffing, and grants and contracts.

The special report was initiated after Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) called for an examination of TBI’s budgeting and accounting practices. The General Assembly included language within the 2017 Appropriations Act requiring the review to be complete by January 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office found TBI’s expenditures have exceeded its budgeted estimates since 2014, and TBI has relied on its various reserve funds for its continued operations. These accounts have been greatly diminished as TBI has used these funds. The Comptroller’s Office concluded that TBI and the Department of Finance and Administration should commit to improve communication during the budget process.

Continue reading

Mumpower files $1.5M lawsuit in Interstate accident

Jason Mumpower, chief of staff at the state comptroller’s office, has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking $1.5 million in damages as a result of “extensive injuries” suffered in an Interstate 81 wreck, reports WJHL.

Mumpower was driving north on I-81 in Sullivan County on Nov. 2 when he was struck by a tractor trailer. In the suit, the truck driver is accused of driving too fast for the conditions at the time to avoid the crash with Mumpower’s vehicle. Mumpower was one of five people taken to the hospital in that crash and others that slowed traffic for hours.

Mumpower said in the suit that he has “incurred extensive medical expenses and out of pocket expenses as a result of this accident.”  Mumpower told WJHL a few weeks after the crash that he had metal plates in his arm, cracked ribs and pelvic injuries, among other things.

Defendants in the suit are Pavel Gheleniuc, Sopranos, Inc., and Gogu Trucking Express Corporation.

Comptroller finds fault with TennCare paperwork pile

The state Comptroller’s Office says TennCare’s 98-page renewal form is making it harder than necessary for low-income Tennesseans to maintain their subsidized government health coverage, reports WPLN.

Continue reading

Auditors find troubles at DIDD and see looming caregiver crisis

In an audit of the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities released today, the state comptroller’s office found shortcomings in several areas and included an “emerging issue” observation that the state faces “a critical shortage of caregivers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Continue reading

State museum chairman says comptroller review vindicates new leadership efforts to resolve past troubles

A “limited review” of Tennessee State Museum operations finds past problems – ranging from missing booze to nepotism and other conflicts of interest — are now being addressed and Thomas Smith, chairman of the board that oversees museum operations, tells The Tennessean he sees the report as a vindication of new leadership.

“I believe that this letter from the comptroller’s office is excellent,” Smith said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Continue reading