Your tax $$ at work in Knox County

By: Rob Pratt Email
By: Rob Pratt Email

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Are your tax dollars paying county employees when they campaign during work time?

A Knoxville News Sentinel story quotes a Knox County Circuit Court Clerk's employee, saying she was told she could campaign without taking any vacation time.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more.

No one denies that Jennifer Kite was outside Rocky Hill Elementary School Tuesday, helping Lee Trammel in his county commission race.

The real question, did someone she works for tell her she could do it without taking time off?

Somewhere in this crowd, Jennifer Kite, an employee in the Circuit Court Clerk's office spent election day doing campaign work for county commission candidate Lee Trammel.

A reporter and photographer from the Knoxville News Sentinel talked with her, and printed a story, saying she told them that her supervisor asked her to work the polls for Trammel.

The paper says she claImed she would not even have to take annual leave for time spent campaigning.

Knox County Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist says, "If she misunderstood, if she was misinformed, I'm sorry."

Quist admits Kite was campaigning for Trammel, but says it's the policy of her office to require people who take time off for political purposes to use their vacation time to do it.

Quist says, "I sign every time sheet. When her time sheet comes across my desk, it'll be annual leave that's taken for it."

Kite would not talk on camera.

She had been crying when she told me she was misquoted by the News Sentinel.

Editor Jack McElroy told me by phone that the paper stands by the story.

He says two professional journalists were there when Kite made the statement.

Ed Shouse beat Trammel in a landslide for County Commission seat 4B Republican nomination and says, "It disappoints me if it's true. I certainly don't know if it's true or not, but it frankly wouldn't surprise me, the things that go on over here at the courthouse."

While Quist denies she told Kite what to do, she admits she spoke with Kite while she was campaigning.

Quist says, "I stopped by the poll to see her, to make sure that she was ok because she has never done this before."

After this, Kite says she's not sure she'll be doing any campaigning anytime soon.

I asked Quist if she feels she or anyone on her staff should have done anything differently.

She says no, the policy is clear and it will be followed.


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