Home landscaping, designer suits and $30,000-dollar loans to friends are some of the things ousted state lawmaker Jeremy Durham paid for with campaign funds. That’s according to the findings of a nine-month audit by the state Registry of Election Finance, released this week.
Tennessee law bars personal use of campaign money. But in a lengthy report, registry officials cite what they call “hundreds” of such violations.
Those include using campaign funds to reimburse expenses already covered by the state government, not reporting thousands of dollars in contributions and investing $100,000 of election finances in the pharmaceutical company of a prominent Republican donor.
Durham’s attorney has a “laundry list” of objections to the findings. Peter Strianse also says he thought the report was a draft that would not yet be distributed widely.
"I understand if that’s they’re procedure and those are the steps we have to go through," says the lawyer. "But why in the world would you make public a report that you know is going to be subject to significant challenge?"
But a Registry official says the office followed standard protocol.
Durham’s attorney has until May to respond to the findings, before a hearing slated for June.
The Franklin Republican was expelled from the legislature last year following nearly two dozen anonymous claims of sexual harassment.
A federal investigation into potential campaign finance violations is ongoing.