Trooper off se­cu­rity af­ter giv­ing info to Lee group

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Natalie Al­li­son Nashville Ten­nessean USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE TEN­NESSEAN THE

A Ten­nessee High­way Pa­trol trooper as­signed to pro­vide se­cu­rity for both gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates was re­moved from his post last month af­ter vi­o­lat­ing a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment by re­veal­ing de­tails of Demo­crat Karl Dean’s sched­ule to Repub­li­can Bill Lee’s cam­paign.

Af­ter learn­ing about a Dean stop the Lee cam­paign un­der­stood to be part of a “Mus­lim event,” ac­cord­ing to Ten­nessee High­way Pa­trol memos ob­tained by the USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - Ten­nessee, the Lee cam­paign re­port­edly asked an­other trooper whether his staff could ob­tain a photo of Dean in a mosque.

The Sept. 7 event in ques­tion was a meet and greet at a falafel restau­rant in Knoxville, and not a re­li­gious gath­er­ing.

A Lee cam­paign spokes­woman said the GOP nom­i­nee had “no rec­ol­lec­tion” of the con­ver­sa­tions tak­ing place.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports filed as part of the De­part­ment of Safety & Home­land Se­cu­rity’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent, Trooper An­thony Bull was as­signed that day to the Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­tec­tion Unit for Lee and Dean, who each had sep­a­rate events in East Ten­nessee that day.

Bull was first as­signed to help with ad­vance se­cu­rity in Hawkins County ahead of Lee’s ar­rival, and met with Lee’s RV driver to talk about his sched­ule for the day, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

Dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, the re­ports state, Bull men­tioned he would be on as­sign­ment in Knoxville later that af­ter­noon to as­sist Dean, and “di­vulged lo­ca­tions that Nom­i­nee Karl Dean would be at­tend­ing,” ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

A Ten­nessee High­way Pa­trol lieu­tenant then trav­eled with Lee as his cam­paign left the Hawkins County event and heard the driver telling Lee about the in­for­ma­tion Bull had passed along re­gard­ing Dean’s sched­ule, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

“The nom­i­nee heard the staff mem­ber’s in­quiry and stated im­me­di­ately, ‘I would love to have a photo of that,’” a memo from the lieu­tenant states.

A cam­paign staff mem­ber then “jok­ingly” asked if the lieu­tenant could have a “trooper take a photo for us,” ac­cord­ing to the memo.

An­other doc­u­ment, a case sum­ma­tion that is part of the de­part­ment’s in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, pro­vided a dif­fer­ent ac­count of who may have asked for the photo. That doc­u­ment stated that Lee “jok­ingly asked” the lieu­tenant if Bull could take a photo of Dean at the event.

In re­sponse to ques­tions about the con­ver­sa­tion, Lee spokes­woman Laine Arnold said the can­di­date didn’t re­mem­ber the in­ter­ac­tion tak­ing place.

“Bill has no rec­ol­lec­tion of the con­ver­sa­tion be­ing de­scribed in the re­port,” Arnold said in a state­ment. “He has great re­spect for the THP mem­bers in­volved, but this sounds like a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

Con­cerned about a breach of con­fi­den­tial­ity pro­to­col, the lieu­tenant con­tacted Bull’s su­per­vi­sor and the two con­ducted a three-way call with Bull, in which he ad­mit­ted “he had let his guard down and was be­ing too chatty” with Lee’s driver.

Bull had signed a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment a week ear­lier, pledg­ing not to share in­for­ma­tion or pho­tographs ob­tained as a re­sult of his em­ploy­ment in the de­tail.

In a memo to a su­per­vi­sor Bull wrote a week later, he notes the lieu­tenant 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.

Bull elab­o­rated on his con­ver­sa­tion with the RV driver and ac­knowl­edged he had un­in­ten­tion­ally vi­o­lated the con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment.

“I in­formed the driver that I would be out of my el­e­ment due to the itin­er­ary in­clud­ing Mor­ris­town, New­port, and a Mus­lim event in Knoxville,” Bull wrote.

In a state­ment, De­part­ment of Safety & Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sioner David W. Purkey said that af­ter be­com­ing “aware of the al­le­ga­tions in the com­plaint, the colonel im­me­di­ately re­moved this trooper from the pro­tec­tive de­tail and or­dered an in­ter­nal in­quiry by the de­part­ment’s In­spec­tional Ser­vices Bu­reau.”

“The re­view de­ter­mined that the trooper’s ac­tion vi­o­lated con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments signed ear­lier by all troop­ers as­signed to the pro­tec­tive de­tails,” Purkey said. “As com­mis­sioner, I dis­ci­plined the trooper, in­clud­ing a sus­pen­sion, and he’s been re­moved from any fur­ther de­tails. I have apol­o­gized to both cam­paigns for the trooper’s ac­tions as we con­tinue to en­sure the safety of the nom­i­nees.”

In a state­ment Tues­day, Dean said it was “dis­turb­ing and dis­ap­point­ing” to learn about what hap­pened.

“It’s just wrong for a po­lit­i­cal can­di­date to ask state law en­force­ment to take pho­tos at our event,” Dean said. “If the Lee cam­paign wanted a photo, all they had to do was ask me or look at my cam­paign’s so­cial me­dia, not ask a state trooper to vi­o­late their rules and obli­ga­tions.”

The Dean cam­paign tweeted a photo of a small crowd that had gath­ered at Yassin’s Falafel House as Dean spoke.

Dean spokes­woman Paige Hill con­firmed that Dean did not go to a mosque, but that the meet-and-greet event had ini­tially been listed on his sched­ule as a “Mus­lim com­mu­nity event,” as the restau­rant owner is part of Knoxville’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

The gath­er­ing was not re­li­gious and drew a va­ri­ety of cus­tomers and sup­port­ers, she said.

“We’re proud of our sup­port­ers no mat­ter what faith they are,” Hill said.

Demo­crat Karl Dean, left, and Repub­li­can Bill Lee face each other in the Nov. 6 gov­er­nor’s elec­tion.

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