The townhome of Jeremy H. G. Hayes, candidate for State Representative for the 57th District, a seat currently held by Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), was raided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) on Tuesday morning, a move the candidate says was politically motivated.
Four TBI agents came with a warrant to search his townhome, reportedly telling Hayes they have “Reason to believe you voted out of district in the last primary.” Simultaneously and without a warrant, three additional agents went to the home of Hayes’ grandmother, where Hayes tells The Tennessee Star he stays four to five nights a week to care for the 78-year old who suffers from multiple sclerosis and stage IV kidney failure.
Lynn’s claim that Hayes, one of her challengers in the August Republican primary, lives out of the district has been going on for the better part of a year. She told The Star back in March 2017 about Hayes, “he doesn’t live in Wilson County nor in my district.”
Hayes provided a digital photograph of his State of Tennessee driver’s license to The Star that shows an issue date of April 2017 and an expiration of April 2025, with a Mt. Juliet address, information that should have been available to the TBI.
While a case such as this wouldn’t normally go public, Hayes told The Star, “People need to know about this.” And, as he posted on Facebook, “I will NOT stay silent when our state agencies are being used to bully our campaign for political purposes!”
Hayes expressed concern that this could happen to anyone and is not a left, right, conservative or liberal issue, but should alarm everyone.
The warrant authorized a search of his townhome as well as tapping into his phone and internet, and according to Hayes, was obtained because opponent Susan Lynn is a personal friend of District Attorney General Tommy Thompson.
Hayes said the search of the townhome lasted about two and half hours, during which agents looked through closets and cabinets and seized some paperwork and checkbooks.
Meanwhile, three other agents spent about four hours at the home of Hayes’ grandmother, and in the absence of a warrant, tried to intimidate her into letting them search the home. When Hayes arrived he asked if they had a warrant, which infuriated them, according to Hayes. He then called an attorney who advised him that the TBI agents be directed by his grandmother to leave the house.
TBI spokesperson Susan Niland confirmed in a statement released to News Channel 5, “TBI Special Agents are investigating allegations that Jeremy Hayes resides outside of the district for which he is running for office, and that he cast a ballot in a district in which he does not reside.”
It was also reported by news Channel 5 that Rep. Lynn “confirmed that she did contact the Tennessee Coordinator of Elections to report Hayes.”
Current Republican gubernatorial candidate and former State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) told The Star on Wednesday this is an old Democrat trick that was played on her as well back in 2002 when she filed to run in Wilson County and was investigated by Tommy Thompson.
Beavers was subsequently cleared by a district attorney in another county.
The opinion on the matter, according to Beavers, is that the law is not clear on the issue, in that “your residency is wherever you say it is, regardless of where you lay your head at night.”
The same technique of challenging residency was used against James Peach when he ran for the legislature in 1992. Beavers had firsthand experience with that unsuccessful case as well, because she was hired as the court reporter.
Tuesday, the day of the raid on Hayes, marked the 11-month celebration of his daughter’s birth and, ironically, the five-year anniversary of a Facebook post by Hayes quoting Thomas Jefferson, “When people fear the government there is tyranny.”