Friday, January 22, 2016

Candidate: Property Assessor's Office under IRS criminal investigation

A two-time candidate for the Knox County property assessor’s position said the office is under federal investigation.

During a taping of Sunday political talk show "Inside Tennessee," candidate Andrew Graybeal told the panel that he’s met with current and former employees who informed him that they’ve met with an agent from the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division as recently as “two weeks ago.”

The office determines the value of all local and commercial property in Knox County.

“What I am hearing from the employees is . . . assessments, issues and campaign contributions will get you a lower assessment – that’s what has been said to me by employees, former and current,” said Graybeal, who also ran for the job in 2008.

Graybeal is one of three Republicans seeking the position in the March 1 primary. The winner will take over the office, since no Democrat qualified.

Phil Ballard, the current property assessor, is term-limited.

After the taping, WBIR 10News reached out to Ballard’s attorney, Don Bosch, regarding the accusations.

“We have been aware of the rumors and allegations for many years now and we look forward to the day that these rumors and allegations end,” Bosch said.

Jim Weaver, the current chief deputy in the office, also is seeking the position.

He said “those are rumors we’ve heard for six years,” but he said he had never met with investigators.

“I have no knowledge of this,” he said. “These are pretty serious accusations. I have not been talked to, I don’t know anyone who has been talked to."

John Whitehead, who served as property assessor from 2000-08 and also is seeking the job, said he has not talked to investigators nor was he aware of a possible federal probe.

The Property Assessor’s Office, which has 45 employees, is responsible for appraising residential and commercial property in Knox County.

Tune in to WBIR 10News at 9:30 a.m. Sunday for more on the election.


Dean Lewis said...

This is a very serious allegation made by Mr. Graybeal. I worked for over five years in the office as a senior staff member and never observed anything that would lead me to believe this. I retired last March after over 43 years in the assessment profession and have been a close associate of Jim Weaver during my entire career. I know him to be above reproach and know there are many assessment professionals across the state would agree with my assessment. I also know from my association with Phil Ballard, that I was never approached to do anything unprofessional nor did I see him do so to any other employee. Such an allegation as this is hogwash in my opinion and I am offended by it. If such an investigation had any merit, I would think I would have been contacted given my position with the office.

Brian Hornback said...

If the commenter above is a senior staff member of 5 years for Ballard and 43 years in the assessment profession, why post anonymously? I suspect I know who it is, but why post a defense of Ballard and Weaver and attempt anonymity?

Anonymous commenters have no credibility

Gina Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Lester said...

Mr Hornback I think his credentials speak for them selves much more than yours (running a half ass web site doesn't make you an expert on anything)

Brian Hornback said...

Well Mr. Lester (if that's your real name and if I were a betting man, which I am not you likely posted from an IP address in the CCB) you are warranted to your opinion, the site traffic numbers and list of advertisers speak for themselves.

As for Mr. Lewis or any other former PA employee I am sure that anonymity works to keep from having to answer any questions including those from individuals with badges that are investigators with any of the 3 letter agencies.

Still cowardly In My Humble Opinon

Dean Lewis said...

Good grief Brian Hornback! My "Prazier" handle was there in 2013 to allow me to post without bringing any undo criticism to the office. Now that I'm retired, that is not the case. If you click the "Prazier" handle on the above post, you will see my name. I stand by what I said. By the way, I have other names as well, Papaw being the one I love the most. Get a life!!'