Ad Inaccurately Portrays Intent Of Friday Meeting: Pody

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An advertisement placed by the chairman of the Cannon County Republican Party in this week's edition of the Cannon Courier may be confusing to the public, according to the county's state representative.

The advertisement encourages people to attend a town hall meeting Friday at the Cannon County Courthouse and to "ask questions" and "get answers" about Cannon County's budget, audit and audit findings.

The featured speaker at the meeting will be Justin Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasury for the State of Tennessee.

The meeting was arranged by Republican State Representative Mark Pody, who said he asked Wilson to accompany him on a three-county tour of his district Friday to meet informally with local officials and citizens.

Rep. Pody told the Courier Tuesday that Wilson will not be answering specific questions related to Cannon County's budget or audit. He said if any such questions are asked during the town hall meeting the questioner will be referred to someone within Wilson's department or to local officials for responses.

When asked, Rep. Pody acknowledged it is unlikely that Comptroller Wilson has read Cannon County's budget, or an audit report of Cannon County's finances.

The first stop on Wilson's Cannon County visit will be to the Cannon County Election Office. Election Administrator Stan Dobson said his understanding of the purpose of Wilson's visit was to "put faces to names" to local officials.

The advertisement in this week's Courier was ordered for by Corey Davenport, who is chairman of the Cannon County Republican Party.

The ad states, in part, "If you have questions about Cannon County's budget or audit findings, now is the time to ask!"

Another line reads, "Now is the time to have your questions answered!"

Davenport says he placed the advertisement as an individual, and not as a representative of the CCRP. Davenport requested that the bill for the advertisement be sent to the Cannon County Republican Party at his home address, but stated he did not want his name or that of the CCRP mentioned in the advertisement.

Davenport said he was asked to run the advertisement by Debbie Stephens, assistant to Rep. Pody. However, Rep. Pody said he only requested that a news announcement be published with no specific mention of any topics for discussion. He said Wilson will be providing information about what the Comptroller and the Comptroller's Office does.

Rep. Pody said he also asked a group of people Davenport is involved with to provide the "light finger foods" which the ad states will be served after the meeting. Davenport states the food will not be provided by the CCRP but instead by "people in attendance."

While Davenport says the event is non-political in nature, the chairman of the CCRP does state that he was involved in meetings, phone calls and e-mail exchanges about it with Rep. Pody and his office.

The CCRP recently made a public call for the establishment of a local audit committee to examine Cannon County's budget. Davenport, whose wife and mother-in-law work for the county, has been a frequent commenter on stories about the county's budget on the Courier's web site.
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