Troopergate: the gift that never stops giving.

13 troopers were promoted in a “dramatic restructuring” last Wednesday. Among those:

  1. Captain Danny Wilson was promoted to lieutenant colonel (THP’s second-highest rank). In 1993 Wilson used his service revolver to shoot out a television and a large oval mirror at his estranged girlfriend’s house (who was not home) and left a note describing what he wanted to be preached at his funeral.
  2. Captain John Eldridge was promoted to major:
    Eldridge is a personal friend of Deputy Gov. Dave Cooley’s brother-in-law, according to state records, and gave $600 to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign in 2004.

  3. Captain J.R. Perry was promoted to major:
    Perry was promoted from sergeant to captain, skipping lieutenant, after he and his wife gave $312 to Bredesen in 2002; they gave an additional $100 in 2004.

  4. Captain Wayne Springer was promoted to major:
    Springer had cited references for promotion in recent years from U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Pall Mall, and Democratic activist Marvin Sandrell of Columbia, who was slated to welcome U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. at a cookout-fundraiser at his barn tonight.

  5. Lieutenant Don Nicholson was promoted to Captain. In 2003, Nicholson was made lieutenant in spite of having the lowest promotion ranking out of 15 sergeants, and was promoted over 5 other sergeants with higher scores shortly after Bredesen took office and shortly after Nicholson’s family had given $350 to the governor’s 2002 campaign.
  6. Lieutenant Robert Melton was promoted to Captain.
    [Melton] also contributed or had family members contribute to Bredesen, according to records. A Robert Melton listed at his home address gave $1,675 to his 2002 campaign, records show.

An auditing firm (Kroll, Inc.) hired by the state to review Tennessee Highway Patrol promotion processes found them to be “corrupted” and “tainted” by political activity, unethical conduct and lies and called for more transparency, which we all thought was being put into place. But:

However, the process that culminated in Wednesday’s promotions of higher-ranking officers was less transparent. There was no formal application process or job postings for the executive command staff.

Bredesen’s bag man “Safety Commissioner” defended the promotions:

Nicely said troopers’ political activity played no part in the promotion process “any more than it played in the demotions and some of the dismissals we’ve had since we’ve been here. I don’t think you can say someone is qualified because they’ve been politically active or not qualified. I think you have to judge them on their merits.” Walker also said politics played no part in the promotions process.

Just curious. Did any of the promotees have a record of being active in or making large donations to the GOP? Anybody?

Are we, then, to assume that every THP patrolman is a Democrat? I doubt it.

Ah well, if the impossible happens Bryson for Governor points out that Bryson promises to remove politics from the THP.