Karl Dean calls for TBI investigation into THP’s handling of campaign security breach

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean is calling for an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after a trooper was disciplined and removed from his campaign for allegedly giving information to opponent Bill Lee’s campaign.  

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which oversees the Tennessee Highway Patrol, suspended the state trooper last month for revealing details of Dean’s schedule to the Lee campaign.  

After the trooper mentioned that Dean would be at a Muslim event in Knoxville on Sept. 7, Lee told a highway patrol lieutenant, “I would love to have a photo of that,” according to a report about the incident. The department immediately began investigating. 

A newly released document, which was not part of the official report, allegedly indicates Lee told the lieutenant that “he would like to get pictures of Karl Dean coming out of the Mosque.” 

After hearing about the breach from a whistleblower, Dean met with Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey on Sept. 19 to discuss the alleged incident.  

According to a release from the Dean campaign, Purkey said he didn’t recall if Lee was involved in the request for photos.  

Financial disclosures show on Sept. 20 Purkey gave $1,000 to Lee’s campaign.  

“These developments make it even clearer that, despite Mr. Lee’s claims not to remember the incident, it did happen,” Dean said. “His cynical request for photos of me didn’t reflect the kind of leadership our state needs.” 

Dean continued, “My campaign should have heard about this immediately, but it took three weeks just to get an incomplete accounting, and even that wouldn’t have come to our attention if a whistleblower hadn’t felt we needed to know. Commissioner Purkey’s contribution just raises more questions about why the Tennessee Highway Patrol seems to favor one campaign over another. It’s time for the TBI to take a look at everything that happened.” 

News Channel 11’s sister station News 2 has reached out to the Lee campaign for comment. 

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