Commission Candidate Actions Questioned by D.A.

HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WDEF-TV) – The Hamilton County District Attorney’s office is looking into a complaint that a county commission candidate violated a state law.
The county elections office says the campaign of John Allen Brooks had mailed filled-out requests for absentee ballots to elderly voters.
It may be a violation of state law.

JOHN ALLEN BROOKS, COMMISSION CANDIDATE "Helping an elderly person to vote…isn’t the worst thing in the world."

Attorney John Allen Brooks is seeking election to the Lookout Valley commission seat he once held. But he says his campaign the request of an elderly voter, sent out a request for an absentee ballot that was already filled out.
Brooks says they later sent 3 more that were also filled out.

JOHN ALLEN BROOKS "They sent it out, I got a phone call from the Kerry Steelman..he says you’re not supposed to do this…I said I didn’t know we were doing it…but we’ll stop and it ended right then."

State law says it’s a class E misdemeanor for anyone other than an election department employee to give a request for an absentee ballot to another person.
Election commission member Chris Clem says the law is necessary.

CHRIS CLEM,MEMBER, ELECTION COMMISSION "There’s a lot of potential abuse and the abuse could be very serious…which is why Tennessee law forbids candidates especially from going out and soliciting absentee ballots.

Brooks says former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson used to send out such requests for absentee ballots.

JOHN ALLEN BROOKS "The law was passed in 2003…it used to be a very common thing to send that out to people. The funny thing isits a misdemeanor if you do it unsolicited, but if you talk to somebody and they say they want it ..and you send it..its a felony."

CHRIS CLEM "People might not realize it..especially maybe the elderly, that once they fill out an application for an absentee ballot …they will be prohibited from voting on election day and in early voting."

The district attorney’s office is looking into the complaint—no indication of how long that may take.

Democrat Brooks is running against Republican Joe Graham in district 6.
The state primary and County general election will be held August 7.

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