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“TO PROTECT AND SERVE”…BUT WHO?

by Sharon Rondeau

Were members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol protecting the governor on Wednesday in Athens or harassing a constituent?

(Aug. 7, 2014) — As a result of a report related by Athens, TN resident and registered voter Eugene Whiting after he attended a “Meet & Greet” with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in Athens on Wednesday, The Post & Email on Thursday contacted the Public Information Office of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, which is tasked with providing security for the chief executive of the state.

We first spoke with Sgt. Bill Miller, who listened courteously while we related that which Mr. Whiting had told us.  We informed Miller that with Mr. Whiting’s permission, we had recorded the interview and also published a letter he had sent to us after he returned home from the event.  Miller requested that we send an email summarizing the complaint and promised to investigate our report of intimidation, rudeness, and the demand from the THP plainclothes officers that Mr. Whiting “identify himself.”

We then sent the following to Miller:

From:  Sharon Rondeau
Sent:  Thu 8/07/14 10:32 AM
To:  Bill.Miller@tn.gov (bill.miller@tn.gov)

Thank you for speaking with me just now, Sgt. Miller, regarding the incident I reported on behalf of Tennessee citizen and registered voter Eugene L. Whiting of Athens, TN.

As full disclosure, I have been acquainted with Mr. Whiting and his wife and have found them to be very reliable sources over the last three years.

The details I have from Mr. Whiting of the incident on Wednesday in Athens are as follows:

  • He arrived at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT at Michael’s Restaurant, 2011 Congress Parkway, Athens, TN  37303 in anticipation of the governor’s “Meet & Greet” announced here:  http://knoxblogs.com/humphreyhill/2014/08/04/alexander-haslam-campaign-together/
  • He said that he had been sitting quietly for about ten minutes when two “suits” asked him who he was and why he was there.  When he showed them a business card, they reportedly said, “That’s not good enough” and asked to see his driver’s license.  Mr. Whiting said that he was the only person who was asked to produce identification and does not believe it was constitutional.  He said he was asked why he was there, to which he reportedly responded, “I want to speak to the governor about corruption in the county.”
  • Mr. Whiting said that he and a disabled man were kept isolated from the general public once Gov. Haslam arrived and greeted people in a different location.
  • Mr. Whiting reported that when he said he was there to hear the governor, he was told, “You may have to leave” without cause.
  • He said that when he got up to go to where Gov. Haslam was shaking hands, he was ordered by one of the “suits,” “Sit down!”  At that point, he could hear the governor speaking and see him shaking hands with people, but he reported that the two “suits” blocked his vision and constantly turned back to stare at him in an intimidating way.  “I stared right back at ’em,” he told me.
  • Mr. Whiting characterized the entire affair as, “I had better security than the governor.”
  • Mr. Whiting said he stayed at the event for about an hour.
  • After arriving home, Mr. Whiting contacted me both by phone and in writing with the following letter, which I published yesterday:

We then included a full, printer-friendly version of our article of Wednesday containing Mr. Whiting’s letter sent to Gov. Haslam describing his experience found here:  http://www.thepostemail.com/2014/08/06/constituent-attends-meet-greet-with-tn-governor-and-is-treated-like-a-common-criminal/

The response received at the close of business on Thursday from the Public Information Office reads as follows:

Sharon,
 
Sgt. Bill Miller forwarded your message to me. He has been tied up with another project today and asked me to respond.
 
The Protective Services Division of the Tennessee Highway Patrol at all times ensures the safety of the Governor and First Lady. The troopers assigned to protect the Governor do so in a manner that allows him to be accessible to citizens, if time permits. The Governor’s security did speak to Mr. Whiting at Wednesday’s campaign event in Athens. Mr. Whiting was asked to identify himself, and after doing so, stayed for the event.
 
Thank you,
 
Jennifer C. Donnals
Communications Director
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
615-251-5143 (desk)
 
Department’s Mission: To serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.
Department’s Vision: To be a national leader in best practices that enhance public safety and customer service.

The Post & Email then sent the following response:

But why was he asked to “identify himself” when no one else was asked to do the same?

Do you think that Mr. Whiting is due an apology for the troopers’ behavior?

Do they deny trying to intimidate him?

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
www.thepostemail.com
P.O. Box 195
Stafford Springs, CT  06076

We will report if and when we receive a response.

 

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  1. It’s all smoke and mirrors-Haslam and the rest are posturing to keep an agenda and couldn’t care less. I emailed Haslam and asked him to please help Walt-his answer was “I think he had better get an attorney.” They know about him but won’t do anything as it would indict Obama even though I heard that Haslam was in the RNC it doesn’t matter-both parties are protecting their “positions” and lying and deception are a way of life in any government trustee job. All of this is putrid with corruption-both parties are in on this though the RNC is the minor player.