UPDATE: Group criticizes spending on Governor's mansion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A taxpayer group funded by a neighbor of the governor's mansion is criticizing the spending for construction and renovation of the executive residence.

Tennesseans for Accountability in Government, created by a donation from a Nashville auto dealer, called on the state to provide cost details on renovations and the addition of an underground banquet hall at the mansion.

Group spokeswoman Susan Chastener said the facility is an irresponsible waste of taxpayer money.

The group was created by a donation from Lee Seaman, a neighbor.

First Lady Andrea Conte has said the new underground facility is needed so the mansion will have sufficient space for meetings and entertainment.

The private donations she has raised total about $8 million. No state funds will go into that facility.

But a spreadsheet of the costs of renovations on the mansion showed that $12.8 million in state funds has been allocated for the overall upgrade and maintenance of the property.

Some of those improvements, such as elevators and a larger driveway, were necessary in the plans for the underground facility.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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