Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance has decided to take no action and has dismissed a formal complaint filed against state Rep. Paul Sherrell.
The complaint, filed by Sparta resident Dale Walker, said Sherrell on five occasions went to ham breakfasts sponsored by various volunteer fire departments in White County and paid with a $100 check from his campaign account, then requested $90 back in cash.
“Is this a cash-back scheme?” asked Walker, who is director of the Tennessee Pastors Network.
The incidents occurred at Eastland, Cherry Creek and Cassville volunteer fire departments in February and March.
In an interview with the Standard on Monday, Sherrell admitted to paying with a $100 check and receiving $90 back in cash, but said he used the money to buy breakfast for other people attending the fundraisers.
“I did write the $100 checks,” said Sherrell. “I did it and that’s a fact. I used the money to buy other people breakfast.”
Sherrell said he should have done things differently.
“Instead of writing one check for $100, I should have written 10 checks for $10,” said Sherrell. “It’s the same thing, I just didn’t have to write as many checks.”
Said the Registry of Election Finance in a letter to Sherrell dated last Thursday, May 19, “The Registry voted to take no action on the complaint, finding that the complaint was insufficient to indicate that any violation of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Law had occurred and that, therefore, no further action was warranted. Therefore, this matter has been dismissed.”
The underlying question is whether Sherrell was pocketing the $90 cash he received, noted Lauren Topping, attorney for the Registry of Election Finance. There was no evidence presented that Sherrell used the money in a manner other than what he told the board.
Sherrell says the sworn complaint, filed March 30, was politically motivated.
“Dale Walker is not happy with me and he is trying to find things against people instead of helping them find the Lord,” said Sherrell.
In a filing submitted April 5, Sherrell had $65,940 in his campaign account.
Sherrell is a Republican from Sparta who represents Warren County and White County in the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 43rd District.