The Robertson County School System paid a business more than $100,000 for services, even though that business employed a school board member, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released Thursday.
That, auditors said, is a conflict of interest and goes against Tennessee law.
Comptrollers did not name the school board member in their audit.
“During the year, the School Department made payments totaling $105,160 to American Paper and Twine Company, the employer of a school board member,” Comptrollers wrote.
According to Tennessee law, “members of the board of education…shall not be financially interested or have any personal beneficial interest, either directly or indirectly, in the purchase of any supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual services for the county.”
Robertson County School System spokesman Jim Bellis told The Tennessee Star Thursday he was unfamiliar with that audit finding and had no comment.
The school system’s financial coordinator, unnamed in the audit, issued a written response to Comptrollers and said the school system “will terminate the contract and bid with American Paper and Twine.”
“We will seek another company from which to purchase expendable supplies for the 2018-19 fiscal year,” the financial coordinator said.
As reported, this is not the first time taxpayers in Tennessee have lost money that perhaps they should not have because of a previously undisclosed conflict of interest.
Taxpayers are known to lose money when politicians don’t disclose conflicts of interest. That’s because preferred vendors can charge more money.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, Williston City Council members chose one of three competing vendors for a roadwork project that charged four times as much as the other two.
The two competing contractors, meanwhile, separately bid $8,800 and $10,977, the audit said.
As Town Hall reported in 2015, a former child nutrition director for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System allegedly steered nearly $75,000 in food vending contracts to a business that employed her husband.
As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2012, Nashville Electric Service officials bypassed competitive bidding requirements with the intent of helping only one specific vendor — even though other vendors were competing for the same business.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Justin Wilson” by Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.