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In Mott attack, does Mayor Kelly breach TN Hatch act?

Tim Kelly takes the oath as mayor of Chattanooga. (Photo mayor’s office)

In the mayor Tim Kelly’s rebukes to Marie Mott in favor of city council incumbent Marvene Noel, does he violate the Little Hatch Act in state law at T.C.A. 2-19-202, particularly when he endorses Mrs. Noel personally and as mayor, as evidenced in his presentation recorded on Facebook at 3:41?

Kelly backs incumbent, rips Mott at 3:40

The answer from Mayor Kelly’s office comes back in short order from staffer Ellis Smith. It’s not much of an answer. “In general, elected officials are exempted from certain provisions of the act. However, you’d need to speak with an attorney familiar with these matters on a specific question.”

He endorses her as a person and also as mayor. The law indicates Mayor Kelly is prohibited from using his office to endorse or rip a candidate from his office.

(a) It is unlawful for any public officer or employee to use such person’s official position, authority or influence to interfere with an election or nomination for office or directly or indirectly attempt to intimidate, coerce or command any other officer or employee to vote for or against any measure, party or person, or knowingly receive or pay assessments of any kind or character for political purposes or for election expenses from any other officer or employee.

(b) It is the intent of this section to prohibit any political intimidation or coercion of any public officer or employee.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-19-202 (emphasis added)

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