Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, saying he had never ordered anyone to be promoted in the Tennessee Highway Patrol, still plans to inquire about allegations that campaign donations and outside politics precede promotions in the agency, the Tennessean reports. The newspaper on Sunday detailed how two-thirds of highway patrol promotions in his administration went to officers who gave money to his campaign, or had family members or political patrons who did. More than half in that group were promoted although they were competing against officers with higher promotion scores.
Troopers and former troopers across the state told the Tennessean that political pressure, campaign donations ,and a culture of favors for the powerful dominate the patrol, and have for much of its history. The state’s civil service system is supposed to cover most of the patrol’s nearly 1,000 uniformed officers. Two Republican state lawmakers who serve on committees that have some oversight of the patrol said any problems with its promotion process should be corrected. “If people are getting promoted because they are giving campaign contributions, that is wrong,” said House Minority Leader Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville).