Back on January 26, the News Sentinel had this story about lobbyist in Nashville breaking the record for wining and dining legislators. Those dollars are mostly private sector or association dues. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but it got me to thinking. How much public money is used for local influence peddling. The best place to turn was to KUB (Knoxville Utilities Board), they employ Moxley Carmichael, the same firm that the News Sentinel employs. Moxley Carmichael appears to be a one stop shop for advertising creation, advertising placement and campaigns. But they also participate in government consulting. Clients like Rural Metro received contracts in part by having Moxley Carmichael on their side.
KUB has been referred to as a user of tax payer dollars. They have refuted that in the past saying they have rate payers. Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe set the standard when he said, you have an awful captive audience. For me personally, I am a KUB Natural Gas rate payer. I have First Utility District of Knox County as my water provider and Lenoir City Utilities Board as my electric provider. If I do not want KUB as my natural gas provider, I am simply with out natural gas.
Unlike cable television, WiFi or phone service, where I can pick among two, three or an even greater number of providers. I am as Mayor Ashe said a captive natural gas consumer. So, KUB needing to launch advertising campaigns, advertising or influence peddling really isn’t necessary.
On Friday January 30, 2015 I sent an Open Records Request to KUB President Mintha Roach and the three Vice Presidents immediately under her. I asked for the monthly payments paid to Moxley Carmichael for professional services for the duration of their service to KUB. On the Seventh business day, this past Tuesday 2/10/2015, I received a call from KUB’s Communication Department explaining they were working on the open records request.
It was explained to me that the current accounting software only goes back to July 2005. If I wanted to go back before July 2005, it would take a considerable amount of time and dollars to research. I said, 9 or so years is a good benchmark. Send me that and if I want to go further, I will renew my request.
So, this evening, I received the list of the invoice dates, invoiced dollar amounts, dollar amounts paid and the date paid going back to July 2005 for Moxley Carmichael. I added the amounts up by month and provide them to you below. The reason for this, is to help educate the public about the operation of our local public utility, no other reason.
2005 $33,569.89 (6 months)
2015 $26,933.73 (5 weeks)
Now, Moxley Carmichael leases office space in the KUB building. I have not asked about payments to KUB for rent and utilities. I did ask for KUB to disclose any in kind compensation afforded Moxley Carmichael. I was told (verbally) that KUB does NOT provide any in kind services to any one.
This blog was the first to make public the name of Gloria Ray, when there was all the scuttle, rumor and innuendo about someone making a lot of money, which turned out to be Ms. Ray at the Knoxville Sports and Tourism Corporation. Should salaries at KUB be the next item examined?