Burchett Robocall Was Not Illegal
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RECURO or it's leadership team.
Tuesday evening, a robocall went out to several voters in west Knoxville, informing them of the FBI questioning multiple individuals about Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. The call also made the listeners aware that Burchett, a career politician, previously has been found guilty of hiding campaign money from the public.
Here's the call in question:
Burchett, who is running for U.S. Congress, went back to his tried and true playbook of attacking the attackers, rather than addressing their points. He took to Twitter and the local media, claiming the call was illegal because the number it appeared to come from was altered. He said he's turned it over to the authorities and hopes those behind the call are "held accountable." From my perspective, in doing this, Burchett is showing that he is either ignorant, dishonest, or a combination of both.
If the call contained untrue information, it might have been questionable. However, everything mentioned was factual and can be defended. The call was merely informing voters of the truth about Tim Burchett, something the local media in Knoxville has failed to do for many years now. Tuesday's robocall was not a political mudslinging tactic but rather an educational service to voters who are not hearing the real story about a man who wants their vote for Congress.
According to the Tennessean, the state's most respected news publication, at least four individuals have been interviewed by the FBI relating to Tim Burchett possibly being involved with bribery, tax evasion, and questionable practices relating to county contracts. On this matter, the call simply pointed out what seasoned journalists Dave Boucher and Joel Ebert previously have reported.
The call then stated that the Department of Justice is reportedly sending out letters at present time. According to sources with knowledge of the matter, a longtime area politico received a letter just before Christmas asking them to either give assistance to the Feds or potentially face prosecution. Word of this letter has rapidly spread through the Knoxville political community and Burchett is aware of it, according to people close to him.
Lastly, the call pointed out that Burchett had previously been found guilty of hiding campaign funds from the public. This claim is also 100% true. The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance twice found missing money from Burchett's State Senate campaign disclosures and even fined him for it. The board also demanded Burchett appear before them a third time to explain irregularities in his reports for his Mayoral campaign. Ironically, while in the legislature, Burchett voted against creating the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Burchett's criticism of the calls hasn't centered around their content at all. Instead, he has focused on the calls appearing to come from the Farragut Press newspaper. It's not hard to wonder why the person(s) behind them would choose to remain anonymous. According to multiple sources, in the last few months, .22 caliber bullet holes have been allegedly found at the workplaces of two individuals the Burchett team believed to be sources in the Tennessean story. I've been informed that a third person accused of being a source had multiple county police cars show up at their house "by mistake."
Burchett, ever the opportunist to play the victim card, said the calls are a sign that "powerful folks want to keep us out of Washington." Robocalls typically only cost a few pennies per dial. It's hardly a sign of power for someone to scrape together enough cash to call a handful of voters in only one part of the district.
However, there is nothing more powerful than the truth so maybe the County Mayor is on to something after all. Perhaps the truth contained in these brief calls are the reason they've apparently gotten under Burchett's skin. He knows what he's done in the past. He's aware of the trail of documents, recordings, and broken friendships he's left behind. And he must be scared to death that it will keep him from his goal of ascending to Washington.
Whoever was behind the calls should not be "held accountable" but should be applauded. Slowly but surely, the truth about Tim Burchett is getting out there.