The acting director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is on paid leave and under investigation for an alleged affair at taxpayer expense, and some legislative leaders have called for his resignation, various media outlets reported.
Acting Director Jason Locke will be off the job starting Wednesday, June 20, WKRN reported. Senior staff will oversee operations of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation until next Monday, June 25, when Knoxville Police Department Chief David Rausch takes over the agency.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday named Rausch as the new director of the TBI, WKRN reported. Rausch visited the bureau Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell called for Locke to resign, The Tennessean reported.
“The allegations against Jason are extremely troubling,” McNally said in a statement, according to The Tennessean. “If I were advising him, I would counsel him to resign for the good of his family and the bureau.”
Harwell commended Gov. Bill Haslam for “immediately launching an investigation,” The Tennessean said.
There appears to be slight confusion on how the affair came to light.
Most reports say Locke’s wife Kim emailed Haslam last week to report the affair. NewsChannel 5 reported that information, but in the same story, quoted the governor’s press secretary, Jennifer Donnals, as saying Tennessee Safety Commissioner David Purkey first reached out to Kim Locke, but the matter has now been referred to state auditors in the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.
The NewsChannel 5 story says Jason Locke had the affair with a high-ranking official with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services who now holds a lower position in the department.
“He admitted to me that he drove his state vehicle and she drove her state vehicle to stay in hotels paid for by the State of Tennessee,” Kim Locke’s email said, according to NewsChannel 5.”They each found a reason to be at those locations to continue their affair.”
Jason Locke has hired an attorney, Jeff Cherry of Lebanon, WKRN reported.
A November 2017 NewsChannel 5 story investigated an alleged culture of nepotism at the TBI. A whisteblower alleged that executives’ children were often hired as agents in favor of experienced military veterans (as required by state law). One of those hires was Hunter Locke, Jason Locke’s son. Jason Locke was deputy director at the time.
Hunter Locke’s primary job experience at the time was delivering pizzas, NewsChannel 5 said. He graduated from college after his hiring.