Tennessee Democrat gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean has come under fire by the press and his primary opponent for misusing flood dollars during his tenure as Mayor of Nashville, and is now making misleading statements about the controversy. A report by WSMV’s I-Team found that $7.4 million in federal disaster relief was misused by Dean and used for “riverfront development,” including building an amphitheater, rather than going towards flood victims in need.
Dean even falsely claimed at a recent gubernatorial forum that, “The money that was used was used for flood mitigation, not for building an amphitheater.” This is false. WSMV “reviewed thousands of pages of invoices, budgets, HUD correspondence and internal e-mails that confirm the use of flood disaster funds for the design and engineering of Ascend Amphitheater.”
Karl Dean’s Democrat opponent, Craig Fitzhugh, has seized on the issue, saying that it undermines the “public trust.”
It’s clear that Karl Dean not only misused taxpayer dollars, harming flood victims, but also won’t be honest about it. By misleading voters, Karl Dean demonstrates that he lacks the character to serve as governor.
WSMV: Former mayor denies flood money went toward amphitheater
Last week the News4 I-Team reported that $7.4 million in HUD disaster relief money didn't go to flood victims; it went to design and engineering work for riverfront development, including Ascend Amphitheater.
Dean said during the debate, "The money that was used was used for flood mitigation, not for building an amphitheater."
Dean's former communications director Janel Lacy reinforced the message Wednesday morning, tweeting “strong rebuttal by Karl Dean in response to a false statement about the use of flood recovery funds”
The I-Team asked to interview anyone on his campaign staff and offered to bring thousands of pages of documentation to the interview for their review. Lacy asked the I-Team’s Nancy Amons to email documents and said that they would respond after reviewing the material.
The I-Team reviewed thousands of pages of invoices, budgets, HUD correspondence and internal e-mails that confirm the use of flood disaster funds for the design and engineering of Ascend Amphitheater.
The work was overseen by Commonwealth Development, whose CEO Larry Atema is a friend of Rich Riebeling. Riebeling was Dean’s finance director and is now Metro‘s Chief Operating Officer.
Dean's finance office signed off on the invoices for the Riverfront Development and Ascend Amphitheater project.
One invoice for $110,884, for example, was submitted by Commonwealth on July 31, 2015, with the heading “Riverfront Park and Ascend Amphitheater.”
Another invoice dated March 17, 2014, included the tasks of drawing “building floor plans, base drawings, finish plans and specifications.”