Five Tennessee lawmakers were being led down the garden path, according to court documents: Money was given to them, and a bill was introduced. More money and the bill was amended. More money and the bill was withdrawn. The end of the path led to indictments for the elected officials and two others in the “Operation Tennessee Waltz” bribery case, according to the Tennessean. With each step, more money came their way, and in return, a new request had to be fulfilled for men who turned out to be informants and undercover federal agents.
The allegations against the lawmakers are not simply a case of selling votes. The strongest element of the case against them, two former prosecutors said, may be the cause-and-effect relationship – of bribes in return for specific actions by the lawmakers, of what undercover federal agents asked for and what the legislators delivered. “They create a trail to show that there’s no mistake, so the potential defendants couldn’t say there was a mistake or a lack of understanding” about what they were doing in taking the money, said Hal Hardin, who prosecuted Gov. Ray Blanton during his service as U.S. attorney in Nashville.