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VOL. 35 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 14, 2011




Haslam announces blind trust; Pilot share excluded

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NASHVILLE — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced Tuesday that he has placed most of his private investments into a blind trust, except for his undisclosed share of the family-owned Pilot chain of truck stops and a real estate holding outside of Tennessee.

Haslam, who took office on Saturday, argued during the campaign that there's little reason to place his share of Pilot into a blind trust.

"Tennesseans are very familiar with my relationship with Pilot and know that I'm committed to holding my administration to the highest ethical standards," Haslam said in a statement.

Knoxville-based Pilot is a privately held company with annual revenues of about $20 billion.

The announcement comes after Haslam signed an executive order over the weekend to scuttle requirements established by his Democratic predecessor for the governor and his top advisers to disclose how much they earn in outside income.

The move kept Haslam from having to reveal his earnings in Pilot, a point of much contention during the governor's race. Haslam argued that releasing his Pilot earnings would reveal personal information about family members not running for office as well as proprietary information about the company.

The move has been criticized by newspaper editorials, Democrats and open government advocates.

"By disclosing details of one's personal finances, public officials are saying 'my official work is untainted by my personal interests, and if you doubt that, you can check,'" John Wonderlich, policy director for the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation, wrote on Tuesday. Haslam's order "flouts the public trust embodied in that disclosure system."

Rita Hernandez of Nashville, who said she voted for Haslam in November, sent an e-mail to the new governor that was also copied to The Associated Press urging him to rescind his disclosure decision.

"Do you really think so little of the intelligence of the citizens of this state that you would speak to us of transparency in government with your mouth while, at the same time, your hand is signing such an outrageous act into effect?" she asked.

Haslam on Monday defended his decision on the disclosure, saying that it is important for people to know the sources of his outside income, but not the amounts.

The blind trust will be managed by attorney Bo Campbell of the Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis. Haslam's newly named commissioner of environment conservation, Robert Martineau, was a partner at the same firm.

"My Cabinet and I are dedicated to openness, transparency and ethical governing, and the formation of this trust was the next step in preparation for governing in such a manner," Haslam said.

The out-of-state real estate investment does not need to be added to the trust because the tasks of ownership and upkeep can be handled without a legal trustee, according to the announcement.

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TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0