TRA hires ex-Bredesen aide with harassment past

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) -- Gov. Phil Bredesen says he opposed the Tennessee Regulatory Authority's hiring of his former lobbyist who was relieved of his duties three years ago for sexual harassment.

Bredesen, a Democrat, demoted Robert "Mack" Cooper in May 2005, following the harassment accusation. Cooper later left state government.

Cooper was hired earlier this month as a policy adviser to TRA Director Mary Freeman. Freeman is also a former legislative director in the governor's office. She became the TRA's newest director in July.

Bredesen says he's surprised that the agency decided to hire Cooper, but adds that he has no control over hiring at the TRA.

Cooper will make nearly $88,000 per year for the agency that regulates the state's private utility services. He previously worked as a TRA adviser between 1994 and 2003.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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