Despite being told by his superior to stay out of the Tennessee Highway
Patrol’s business, Deputy Gov. Dave Cooley continued to exert his influence
within the organization for some time, according to the latest investigation by
a Nashville newspaper.
According to The Tennessean,
Cooley – who was ordered by Gov. Phil Bredesen to stop his involvement with
promotions within the patrol in late 2004 – repeatedly recommended troopers for
promotions and hirings up to a year after his scolding.
The proof, the paper said, can be found in public records between
Cooley and various individuals within THP, including Interim Safety
Commissioner Gerald Nicely. According to The
Tennessean, Cooley asked for and was given Nicely’s personal e-mail
address, which would not be obtainable under federal public-information laws.
However, Bredesen told The
Tennessean that he did not see Cooley’s actions as a violation of
his earlier warnings to remain hands-off in THP’s hiring practices.
“Dave is the deputy governor,” Bredesen said. “If he wanted to talk to
the incoming person, who he’s had a long relationship with, about any thoughts
he had about where he ought to look or something, that does not feel to me like
interfering in the Highway Patrol.”
The ongoing investigation into Cooley is just the latest controversy to
emerge from Tennessee’s state and local police forces, most of which stem from
an ongoing investigation by The Tennessean.
The newspaper has uncovered more than a dozen incidents, with allegations
ranging from sexual misconduct to high-level cronyism throughout the state’s
police force and various levels of government.