Want to steal from Tennessee taxpayers? Here’s how

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Sick of people calling you nothing more than a two-bit scam artist?

Well, silly, why haven’t you applied for a job as a public servant in one of Tennessee’s small towns or cities? You’ll have access to money beyond your wildest dreams.

STEAL: There a variety of easy ways to rip off Tennessee taxpayers

Thus far, many elected officials in the Volunteer State just don’t give a damn what you do. But don’t go into this blind.

For your consideration, here are five surefire ways to rip off Tennessee taxpayers:

(1) Pick a town or city where you know for sure you’ll have sole access to this money.

This is the most important step. According to an audit state Comptroller Justin Wilson released today, Machella Meaghan Gilliam got caught taking more than $15,000 from the town of Friendsville.

While Gilliam seemed to have sole access to this money, she got caught because she was sloppy.

Don’t be like her. Don’t be sloppy.

Until and unless state officials enforce stricter accountability measures, this money is ripe for the taking.

(2) In the event you’re caught, make sure you work under the authority of an elected official who refuses to take any responsibility for your behavior.

Crockett County has major potential for theft.

Gary Reasons

County Mayor Gary Reasons, for instance, refuses to accept any responsibility for the fact that one of his employees is accused of taking $88,000 from taxpayers. It’s not the mayor’s fault. Don’t blame him — blame the board he appointed to oversee this woman’s behavior, he told Tennessee Watchdog earlier this year. When a leader assumes no blame, then nobody is at fault for anything.

(3) Considering the prior example, always angle for a position in which the only people who hold you ‘accountable’ are appointed board members.

Board members don’t have to face voters, and they seldom have to answer to politicians.

Getting on a board that oversees a certain department doesn’t depend on skill set.

“A lot of times people get on these boards as a result of political favors,” said State Rep. Kent Williams, I-Elizabethton.

(4) Ask yourself, ‘What kind of attitude do the town’s residents have about stealing? Are they OK with it?’

Monitor the local media. Do the reporters generally try to hold elected officials accountable?

Do people speak out on government theft at public meetings?

If the answer to both questions is no, then dive right in.

“The local governments just do not pay attention to what their employees do and how things really run,” said licensed auditor Ben Vance, when asked about extreme cases of government theft.

“I see that in a lot of cases. You have to wonder why the citizens of the town aren’t more involved when something like this happens.”

(5) Remember, with government officials it’s never about accountability over what they do with taxpayer money — it’s always about the fact they mean well when they spend it.

Take advantage of this mindset. Government entities waste more taxpayer money when a

GENERAL ASSEMBLY: One Tennessee legislator says government theft happens most frequently when employees serve directly under a board.

politician directs more and more of it toward his favorite cause. When good intentions prevail, taxpayer money is harder to trace. So take it — and apply for one of these jobs today.

And if stealing hurts your conscience, then just tell yourself that it’s for a good cause — and you mean well.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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