GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Greene County commissioners will vote whether to censure one of their own on September 16.
According to Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison, a request for censuring of Clifford “Doc” Bryant was sponsored by multiple commissioners due to Bryant’s failure to pay taxes.
A censure is formal disapproval of behavior but does not remove him from the commission.
Failure to pay property taxes
According to Morrison, Bryant has a “track record” of not paying taxes.
Documents included in the commission agenda packet show that as of September 4, 2019, Bryant owed Greene County $7,158.20 in property taxes. The same documents show he owes Greeneville an additional $6,043.02 in property taxes.
News Channel 11 had also reported on Bryant’s failure to pay property taxes in June 2018.
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Multiple federal lawsuits detail failure to pay income tax
The commission meeting documents also show that Bryant had failed to pay federal income tax “for a period spanning more than twenty years and resulting in a judgment against Commissioner Bryant in favor of the United States of America in the amount of $279,952.17.”
One federal case against Bryant dates back to 1996 and was resolved in July 2019.
According to court documents filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Bryant was nearly sent to jail for 10 days in July 2019. In a filing dating July 15, U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifton Corker recommended that “After conducting a hearing on the motion, which Mr. Bryant failed to attend, Judge Corker recommended that this Court find Mr. Bryant in civil contempt based on his failure to pay the agreed-upon amount to the government, and failure to appear in court or respond in any way to the government’s allegations.”
Court documents show the case was resolved days later, with Bryant hand-delivering $15,000 to avoid jail time. The record also shows he agreed to a pay $2,000 in both January and February, and paying $500 per month the rest of the year, each year until his debt is repaid.
Other court documents show that federal lawyers also sued Bryant in 2007 and 2008.
Court records show the 2007 case was dismissed without prejudice on February 5, 2008, due to inactivity in the case.
The 2008 case ended with a judge ruling that Bryant owed the federal government $99.623.07 plus interest, set at a rate of 8.25% yearly.
“…This is not what you do.”
Greene County Mayor Morrison told News Channel 11 the request was referred to the Ethics Committee and that they voted “almost unanimously” in approval of the censure. That vote moved it to the full commission for a vote on Monday.
Morrison said that the failure to pay taxes is “not an ethics violation by itself… per the state of Tennessee.” The county mayor stated that many commissioners agree his “defiance” to pay taxes “reflects very poorly on our… duty to lead the community.”
Robin Quillen is one of the commissioners pushing for Bryant’s censure. She also represents the same area of the county as Bryant.
“We do not like this,” Quillen said. “We are not happy with the fact that he is kind of laughing in our faces if I must say it that way. “
Quillen said it is not right for a commissioner to make decisions about people’s money and other aspects of the county if they can’t keep control of their finances.
“We should be doing the right thing, and not paying your taxes locally, federally, or whichever governmental body you owe, is just not right,” Quillen told News Channel 11.
Quillen said she thinks residents are realizing that not only did Bryant fail to pay his property and income taxes, but also fail to pay on student loans.
“My hope and my wish is that we would get this voted in to let him know that this is not what you do,” Quillen said. “That we can maybe get him censured from committees, anything that we can do like that is going to let him know that this is not what you do. Especially as an elected official. “
News Channel 11 has reached out to Bryant for a response to the scheduled censure vote.