Karl Dean: Trooper divulged itinerary to Lee camp
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mayor Karl Dean said Friday that the Department of Safety & Homeland Security never informed his campaign of a breach of confidentiality last month by a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper assigned to candidate security.
Instead, Dean said in an interview it was a whistleblower from inside the department who let his campaign know something was amiss.
“We weren’t told about this,” Dean said. “When this happened, we didn’t get a call from the Department of Safety saying, ‘Something has gone wrong. We want you to know about it.’
“They weren’t coming forth with this stuff. We had to go and get it.”
In response to an inquiry Friday, Department of Safety & Homeland Security spokesman Wesley Moster said the agency “did its job and followed normal procedures” and that the “case is closed.”
The department repeatedly declined to answer a question about when it informed the Dean campaign about the breach.
Dean said that after learning about the incident from the whistleblower, his campaign staff met with department Commissioner David Purkey.
In a statement earlier this week, Purkey said he disciplined the trooper after learning he had violated a confidentiality agreement. He said he apologized to both campaigns.
According to documents from the internal investigation, Purkey informed Trooper Anthony Bull on Sept. 25 that he would be suspended without pay for one day for having shown “a complete disregard” for department policies and procedures.
Department of Safety & Homeland Security documents show that Bull was assigned Sept. 7 to the Executive Protection Unit for Dean and Republican nominee Bill Lee, who each had separate events in East Tennessee.
Bull disclosed to Lee’s RV driver that he would be working with the Dean campaign later in the day and “divulged locations”
of where Dean would be traveling, according to the documents.
Bull had mentioned to the driver that morning that Dean was attending a “Muslim event” in Knoxville, which was a meet and greet at a falafel restaurant that had been listed as such online by the Dean campaign.
Later that day, Lt. Lester Dolente, who helps oversee the gubernatorial security detail, was traveling with Lee when he heard the RV driver talking about the information Bull had passed along regarding Dean’s schedule, the records show.
“The nominee heard the staff member’s inquiry and stated immediately, ‘I would love to have a photo of that,’” Dolente wrote in a memo summarizing the incident and obtained by the USA Today Network-Tennessee.
A Lee campaign staff member then “jokingly” asked Dolente if he could have a “trooper take a photo for us,” according to the memo.
“I was caught off guard and didn’t know how to respond,” Dolente wrote.
Another document, a summary of the investigation, stated Lee jokingly asked a trooper whether a fellow trooper could take a photo.
In a memo Bull wrote a week after the incident, he said Dolente had informed him “he had heard a statement from the Bill Lee campaign stating that they wished they could get a picture of the other party inside a mosque,” referring to Dean, according to the documents.
On Friday, Dean criticized the Lee campaign’s response to the incident, in which Lee’s spokesperson said he had “no recollection of the conversation being described in the report.”
“I don’t think there can be any doubt, at least in my mind, if you believe the Highway Patrol troopers — which I do — that this happened,” Dean said.
The report included memos from Dolente, Bull and Sgt. Jason Andes summarizing what transpired.