Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meet the GOP Candidates for TN House Dist. 34

The Republican Women of Rutherford County hosted a "meet the candidates" event for those candidates running to fill Rep. Rick Womick's spot when he retires as State District 34 State Representative.

The GOP Primary election date is August 4, 2016 and early voting runs from July 15 to July 30. To find polling places or more information, visit the Rutherford County Election Commission website.

Crowd image courtesy of Rep. Bryan Terry (R-TN48)

A group of 35-40 meet at Logan's on Broad Street to hear three candidates, Tim Rudd, Christy Sigler, and Jimmy Turner, give their pitch and answer some questions. There is a fourth Republican candidate, Joshua James, but he wasn't able to attend. Each candidate was given 5 minutes for opening statements and 5 minutes to answer questions. Here's what they said in order of their appearance.

Tim Rudd
"Proven. Trusted. Conservative Leader" - Tim Rudd

He has lived in the district since 1973 and has been active in politics since 1986. He describes himself as a fiscal and social conservative who wants a "less intrusive government", "more freedom in schools, " and wants the state to "pay for things as we go".

During the Q&A session Mr. Rudd said he supported the Second Amendment including the right of citizens to own AR-15s. Instead of passing new gun control measures, he feels we should better enforce the laws already on the books. Also regarding gun violence, he believes that a key issue is that of mental health and asserted that most mass-shootings were committed by people with mental illness and that the state should take a renewed look at how we handle those with mental illness.

He was also asked about the addiction problem sweeping the country and said it definitely needed to be addressed, noting that opiate addiction plays a role in violence and our general economy. When asked his views on public education and where he stands on charter schools and vouchers, he said he's "100 per cent" in favor of charter schools and would be willing to look at other options including school vouchers.

I asked him if there were any specific issues he wanted to focus on if he goes on to win the primary and general election. He said his main focus was going to be on job recruitment and the economy. He said we're not doing enough to train and recruit, particularly when it comes to blue collar jobs. He'd like to see schools and universities work together while also providing incentives to keep jobs here. He is also concerned with our infrastructure and when I asked about a proposed high-speed rail service in our area, Rudd said that he needed to do more research but was generally in favor of it, saying that we needed one.

The key issues listed on his campaign material are: support low taxes and low spending, strengthening schools, opposing Common Core, fighting illegal immigration, supporting job growth and small business, opposeing Medicare expansion, pro-2nd amendment, pro-life and family.

Christy Sigler
"Experienced Advocate for Our Families" - Christy Sigler

During her opening statement she stressed that her views and actions stem from personal conviction, and doesn't simply "tow the party line." She served in the military and is now a lawyer focusing on children, grandparent's rights, and helping kids who have been neglected or abused. She has served on the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth since 2011. One main focus is on getting state and local government to be better coordinated to address the various issues that face citizens.

Sigler also stated she supported the Second Amendment and doesn't want to make things more difficult for citizens, but said that mental heath is an issue. She wants the state to maintain control over immigration and refugee resettlement. Sigler supports the Human Trafficking Court in Nashville and says that we need to do more to address the issue, noting that "Middle Tennessee is a sex trafficking hot spot".

On education, she spoke about her autistic son and said that students shouldn't be forced into a one-size-fits-all box since each student is different, and that she is open to looking at all alternatives and ideas to improve education.

I also asked her what specific areas she wanted to focus on, her answer was education. She said that the entire system needed to be cleaned up, made more efficient, and needed to have "politics" taken out, citing the controversial problems over PARCC testing. She continued, saying that she also wanted to focus on the addiction problem. I asked her thoughts on mandatory sentencing for non-violent offenders, she responded that she recognizes there are problems with the system that needs to be fixed, and that she is more worried about violent criminals being released prematurely or being given light sentences.

The key issues listed on her website are: supports lower taxes and smaller government, improve transportation, fight human trafficking, promote private sector job growth, fully fund education and expand vocational/technical schools, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-life, help families, healthcare, and support our veterans.

Jimmy Turner
"Principled Conservative. A Fresh Face for Tennessee" - Jimmy Turner

Mr. Turner is a local lawyer and his wife is a reading teacher for students with learning disabilities. He proudly asserted that he "escaped Memphis" and came to Rutherford County and is very proud to have made his home here. Turner recounted the life story of his mother as she fought for respect in the male-dominated world of electrical work. He credits her with teaching him the lessons of hard work, honesty, and integrity. He also said that the large number of people moving to Tennessee are coming here because we are a freer and more conservative state, and he wants to help maintain our liberties.

As a member of the NRA and TN Firearms Association, his answer to gun control was simple, "Constitutional carry," and noted that things like gun-free zones make it easier for criminals and terrorists to attack. He supports low taxes and stated he strongly opposed any increase in the gas tax.

When asked, he said his main issue is also education, and said that he supports the principle "the money should follow the student." He brought up the fact that states are "laboratories of democracy" and that we shouldn't be afraid to try new things, especially if they're already working in other states - such as charter schools. He opposes Common Core.

The key issues listed on his campaign material are: education, economic growth and job creation, protecting gun rights, combating illegal immigration, and promoting life.

Candidate Contact Information
Christy Sigler

Jimmy Turner

Tim Rudd

GOP Women's Contact Info
Main website:
Facebook Page:

--Jacob Bogle, June 22, 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sheriff Arnold Among Three Indicted by FBI

Sketch of Sheriff Arnold in shackles (Source: Anna Dewitt)

Tennesseans Against Corruption, of which I am a member, launched "Oust Sheriff Arnold" in April 2015 when we filed the original ethics complaint against Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. Since then, Murfreesboro Review has has been reporting on this major scandal and published 4 detailed articles on the matter:
   A History of Sheriff Robert Arnold - April 21, 2015
   The Questionable Hires of Sheriff Arnold - April 29, 2015
   Sheriff Robert Arnold Update - Sept. 29, 2015
   Death, Shots, and Beyoncé: the Sheriff Arnold Saga Continues - Feb. 16, 2016

After 13 months of work and a year and 6 days after the initial FBI/TBI raid, Sheriff Arnold, his second-in-command Chief Administrator Joe Russell, and Arnold's uncle John Vanderveer (the owner of JailCigs) were taken into FBI custody and indicted on 14 charges, including fraud, conspiracy, bribery, and extortion. The full 33-page indictment can be read here.

According to the indictments, Arnold received $66,790, Russell received $52,234.41 and Vanderveer received $49,545.50 in payments from JailCigs. The indictment also mentions the April 2015 interview WSMV's Nancy Amons conducted with Arnold, during which he repeatedly lied and claimed he wasn't aware of Russell's involvement - nor his own involvement with JailCigs. However, the indictment clearly shows that Arnold deposited a $3,900 check from the company the day before the interview.

Arnold was released on bond but had his passport confiscated and isn't allowed to leave Middle Tennessee. The arraignment is set for June 7. According to WGNS, Arnold could face up to 95 years in prison if convicted on all counts. It's important to note that so far Arnold and Russell have only been indicted on federal charges, state charges may follow, particularly since Arnold used income from JailCigs to help fund his re-election campaign, pocketed the money instead of turning it into the Rutherford County general fund, and entered into a contract with the company without county commission approval.

Despite telling the Daily News Journal he has "no intention of resigning," calls for his resignation are mounting. Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgress said that Arnold should "seriously consider" stepping down, and state senators Jim Tracy and Bill Ketron have also expressed their desire for him to resign from office.

While the county commission can't fire the sheriff at this point, they should unanimously demand his resignation. The Sheriff's Department has been under a lot of strain due Arnold's and Russell's actions. The ability of the Department to carry out is duties effectively has no doubt been compromised, all the while these men have received hundreds of thousands in taxpayer-funded salaries (and thousands more from illicit sources). Additionally, Arnold recently lost yet another lawsuit for wrongful termination, costing Rutherford County citizens another $340,000 in a settlement, bringing the total amount of money paid out for numerous lawsuits under Arnold's administration to around $1 million.

The people have lost their faith in his ability to serve as sheriff and our county has become a national joke due to his actions. His refusal to step down is an insult to us all. Joe Russell should also, at a minimum, be suspended without pay until the charges are resolved.

Tennesseans Against Corruption will continue to fight for Sheriff Robert Arnold's ouster and demands that the County Attorney, Jim Cope, do his legal duty to assist.

For more information, please LIKE and SHARE our Facebook page, Oust Sheriff Arnold. If you are interested in getting an "Oust Sheriff Arnold" t-shirt, simply send a message via the page. We would also greatly appreciate your donations to help fund the ouster effort legal expenses -

-- Jacob Bogle, 5/28/16

Friday, April 15, 2016

Former Candidate Takes Revolution Across the Country

Former 4th District Congressional candidate John Anderson has an idea: bring about citizen self-governance by dismantling the current system of party politics and big money. 

He ran against State Sen. Jim Tracy and US Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 2014 Republican primary. Sen. Tracy had huge sums of money and Rep. DesJarlais was the incumbent. Mr. Anderson was just a regular guy. He ended up coming in 3rd place after receiving nearly 4,600 votes - which cost his target, Sen. Tracy, the election.

He did this by doing what current US Senator Lamar Alexander did back when he ran for Tennessee Governor in 1978 - traveling the area on foot (or, in Mr. Anderson's case, cycling) and talking to voters one-on-one.

Now, John Anderson, who lives in Bedford County, is going to take his unique personality and particular message to the rest of the country. 

Below is his guest article submission to describing his Rebellion Ride.

By John Anderson

"Revolution" is now a much-bandied word, and it annoys me. Search Facebook and discover "Ted Cruz Revolution 2016." Cafe Press, an on-line retailer, will sell you a "Bernie Revolution" t-shirt for $27.99.  Sarah Palin, Black Lives Matter (George Soros), Rush Limbaugh, Time magazine... Revolution, revolution, revolution. They all spout it.

Next it will be the J.C. Penney Revolution Sale.   

It more than annoys me. It makes me angry that all these posers - and that is what all of them are - have appropriated one of the most powerful words in the English language and thereby are cheapening it.

Rebellion Ride is real revolution. We are actually, truly going to overthrow the government. We aren't going to modify it or alter its course some. We are going to burn it to the ground and replace it with what was intended.

Rebellion Ride doesn't just talk. We do what we say we will do.

Rebellion Ride has a history:

In 2014, with no money and no campaign organization, I ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. My initial motivation was to bring about one of the most surprising national election upsets in that or any recent congressional election year by winning enough votes to alter the outcome of the race.

A particular candidate was overwhelmingly favored to win the seat. He had all the money and powerful endorsements. National political publications said that he was a shoo-in.

He had been dishonest about some state education matters that are quite important. I wanted to punish him publicly and make him an example. I knew I wouldn't win the congressional seat; I wanted to make him lose.

I campaigned by backpacking continuously over 700 miles throughout the sprawling, gerrymandered, 6,000 square mile district, sleeping in my tent at night by the side of the road. I preached against my targeted opponent and for real political revolution.

My one-man, no-money traveling campaign did so stunningly well that, after the election and weeks of contentious recounting and splashy national headlines, my victim lost to another candidate by 38 votes.

It made the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, and I decided that if a retired schoolteacher could change a congressional election, he can change the nation.

Rebellion Ride is going to overthrow the government without bloodshed or physical destruction. The first American Revolution gave us that gift, the ability to non-violently transform our governance. Rebellion Ride is the second American Revolution.

Paul Revere left Boston on the 18th of April in 1775 to announce what would be the real start of the first American Revolution.

Rebellion Ride leaves Seattle, Washington, on the 18th of April, 241 years to the day after Revere left Boston. I will bicycle for three months across the continent to Jacksonville, Florida, 3,500 miles, fomenting political revolution, genuine revolution, all the way.

We are going to destroy political parties and eliminate the influence of money in governance.

Congress will become absolutely transparent and in the public view constantly via the most advanced surveillance streamed to the Internet. There will be nothing done secretly or behind closed doors (exceptions for real national security). Every member of Congress will be watched and listened to all the time. It will be a crime for two or more members of Congress to discuss any public business except when under the surveillance of the Capitol cameras and microphones.

Members of Congress will serve only one term, and during that time they will work at least ten hours per day, six days per week, fifty weeks per year doing actual legislative work to solve problems and improve the future. There will be no fund raising or campaigning for re-election because there will be no re-election. There will be no way to take money from lobbyists.

Every word of every piece of legislation will be read aloud at a normal pace, streamed to the Internet and archived, as members of Congress and the interested public watch and listen. All members of Congress will be required to attend the reading prior to voting. (That one simple change will radically alter governance.)

Most Americans would consider those ideas and say that they are not revolutionary at all, that they are just common sense. In fact, these transformations will alter our system of governance as profoundly as did the first American Revolution.

Not a single current politician would agree to support any of these ideas. That is strong evidence of their revolutionary power and the threat they present to our present government.

The unholy alliance of corrupt party politics and vast wealth that currently governs America will be destroyed and replaced by genuine citizen self-governance.

Rebellion Ride has a website that explains it all: 

The journey will be documented on Facebook at There will be photos, interviews with people all across the country, and textual commentary. You can follow it across the nation.

Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat will become interesting on April 18: rebellionride

YouTube: Rebellion Ride

I appreciate Jacob's allowing me this forum.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Death, Shots, and Beyoncé: the Sheriff Arnold Saga Continues

NOTE: questions surrounding Sheriff Robert Arnold and corruption have been long standing. Please review the first three parts to this ongoing issue to get the full backstory. Part I, Part II, Part, III.

First I would sincerely like to say that I'm glad no one was hurt and Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold's family is fine.

On Monday night, Feb. 15, 2016, shots rang out near Sheriff Arnold's home. The perpetrator is still unknown, but when asked about possible motives, the Sheriff pointed to Beyoncé's 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, claiming “Well, you have Beyonce’s video and how that’s kind of led over into other things, it seems like, about law enforcement.

The idea here is that this video was so violent in intent and has been so persuasive that it has led people to go and kill cops makes little sense. It puts me in mind of another video that was blamed after the deaths of four Americans in Libya.

Sheriff Arnold was no doubt contemplating the so-called "war on cops". However, The Washington Post has shown that police deaths have been falling for decades, with 2015 being one of the safest years ever.

The fact that no bullets even hit his large house, shows that whoever did this was trying to send a message, not kill (if Sheriff Arnold was even the target, it's unknown what exactly was being shot at or where exactly the bullets came from). That said, there's never a good reason to send a message with a gun, nor to try and take vigilante justice. But what could have been the motivation? After years of abuse and corruption, could there be even more reasons for people to be upset with the Sheriff and the Sheriff's Department?

On January 30, 2016, inmate Jonathan Maxwell was found dead while in the Rutherford County jail. He didn't just die though, he hung himself with a phone cord. One has to ask, where exactly were the officers? And what steps did Sheriff Arnold take to prevent this from happening again? Whatever the RCSO might have done, it wasn't enough. A week later, Michael J. Murray also killed himself while in police custody.

Those are just the latest horrible events to occur at the jail. In 2014 Robert Lee Johnson was arrested. Two months later he was found unconscious in his cell after being badly beaten. His family is suing the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department for $20 million. Sheriff Arnold has already lost several lawsuits and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.

On top of deaths and beatings, there is growing concern over the health and safety of inmates. Staph infections are very common, leaving some with half of their body covered in sores. There are also problems relating to mental illness and the ongoing overcrowding situation.

The idea that a music video could be the only reason for someone to be angry at Sheriff Arnold is absurd.

The group Tennesseans Against Corruption, founded by Steve Lane, Joe Liggett and Jacob Bogle, demand Sheriff Arnold's resignation. Not only has he lost the confidence of the citizens of Rutherford County. Not only has his administration overseen immense suffering. Not only is Sheriff Arnold under multiple investigations for corruption. He has now shown that he has lost touch with reality, subjecting our county and the many wonderful employees of the Sheriff's Department to national ridicule. 

Please voice your support by "liking" our Oust Sheriff Arnold Facebook page and please sign our petition demanding his resignation.

--Jacob Bogle, TAC Member

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sheriff Robert Arnold Update

Since the initial story broke in April 2015 and Murfreesboro Review's first post detailing Sheriff Robert Arnold's history and the events surrounding the investigation a number of things have happened.

One of the biggest was the joint TBI-FBI raids that happened on May 21. They raided the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Arnold's home, his Chief Administrator Joe Russell's home and a second home of Russell's, and a location in Marietta, Georgia where JailCigs is based.

According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeff Peterson, "The search warrants were for documents and digital evidence that was collected by forensic experts by both the TBI and FBI. That information will be analyzed for any evidentiary value".

Soon after the ethics complaint was filed by Joe Liggett, Steve Lane, and Jacob Bogle, Arnold placed three officers on paid leave: Chief Administrator Joe Russell and Detective Bill Sharp were placed on paid leave a week or so after the complaint and Capt. John Frost was placed on paid leave on May 12, 2015.

Also in May, Arnold hired one of the nation's top attorneys, Tom Dundon. Dundon, of Nashville's Neal & Harwell, has a history of representing corporations and government officials including, former Gov. Don Sundquist's associate Al Ganeir who awarded an illegal contract, and aviation manufacturers involved in plane crashes.

A June 22 audit report of the Detention Center discovered several problems including: six non-functional security cameras, inadequate fire drills, problems with toxic waste and weapons logs, among other issues. This report came after Sheriff Arnold presented his budget to the County which has grown 31% since 2011. And at a time with officers on paid leave pending investigation, overtime was $900,000 more than last year.

On July 1, after becoming connected with the ethics complaint, Arnold terminated a controversial arrangement with Telmate which provided inmates with computer tablets. According to an inmate's family member, the inmate is required to pay by the minute for use and the family member or friend is also required to pay $0.25 per text, in addition to the inmate's fees. There are a number of additional fees required of both inmates and those wishing to help them, ranging from a nearly $5 charge every single time a family member wants to deposit money into the inmate's commissary account, to outrageous fees for making phone calls.

After being fired in 2012 by Joe Russell, Joy Nelson won a $307,500 settlement in an age discrimination suit on July 6, 2015. This means that tax payers have now had to pay over a combined $500,000 in settlements thanks to Sheriff Arnold and Joe Russell.

On July 11, the Editor's Board of the Daily News Journal contended that the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office under Arnold has suffered and that the citizens of Rutherford County deserve better. The DNJ cited the above mentioned settlement, an unfavorable audit result, and the ongoing investigations.

It was announced on July 23, that Detective Bill Sharp would receive a 5 day suspension for operating a private business out of the Sheriff's Office and Capt. John Frost received a 10 day suspension for developing a computer code while at work that was then sold to a private company.

On Aug. 25, 2015, it was revealed that the Sheriff's Office was being sued for wrongful termination, again. McKayla Black, who was hired in 2008, has alleged that she was fired based on her support for Arnold's political opponent. She also claims that she was demoted from booking officer to jailer once it became known she was pregnant. There have been several additional allegations by multiple people that they were either demoted or fired by Arnold after taking medical leave.

On Sept. 18, Arnold fired 38-year RCSO veteran, and third-in-command, Deputy Chief Virgil Gammon. Gammon is considering legal action against the Sheriff's Office as no reason was given for his termination and it is widely believed he has information of interest to the TBI/FBI investigation and may have done his sworn duty by giving assistance.

The group Tennesseans Against Corruption, which is behind the "Oust Sheriff Arnold" campaign, is continuing to follow the investigations and pursue an ouster suit against Sheriff Arnold. TAC asks that those who know of illegal activity and corruption at the Sheriff's Office or who have been wrongfully fired, to please publicly tell their story. If you would like to help TAC raise the needed funds for the ouster suit, please visit

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Questionable Hires of Sheriff Robert Arnold

NOTE: this list will be updated periodically as new information comes to light. This is a very fluid situation and will require continued attention. For additional updates, please visit the Tennesseans Against Corruption Facebook page on the matter.

The Rutherford County Sheriff's Office has 343 full and part-time employees with another 154 or so working at the jail. No one is perfect. No doubt, if you looked at everyone you'd find something negative, a parking ticket perhaps or they were late paying taxes 10 years ago. However, under Sheriff Robert's administration, there seems to be a pattern of hiring and re-hiring people with severely compromised pasts.

Giving someone a second chance is reasonable under normal circumstances, but working in law enforcement is not a normal job. Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are the ones we as a society have granted permission to actually kill another person. They have the power to not only take a life, but to lock up another person and take their rights away, and they have the power to confiscate their property (without necessarily having to return it once the accused is declared innocent). If a mistake is made, they have the capability to completely ruin the lives of other people and their families. To whom we delegate this awesome authority, the bar must be set very high. Nothing short will suffice; after all, there's no second chances when it comes to killing or otherwise destroying the life of another person. The people we give this power to need impeccable moral fiber, integrity, and demonstrable sound judgement.

The following are several currently employed officers who were either fired or forced to resign under previous sheriffs or from other law enforcement departments (such as Murfreesboro Police) for criminal or other serious reasons, and then were later re-hired by Sheriff Arnold. It's important to remind everyone that the information below comes from publicly available sources (such as news reports and personnel files) and are about current government employees. This has nothing to really do with the people below (unless they're directly involved in the current situation), rather, this has everything to do with Sheriff Arnold and his apparent habit of hiring criminals to be the ones tasked with upholding the law and protecting us.

Given his connections to the current ethics complaint against Sheriff Arnold and the fact that he is in the middle of the ongoing inmate pepper spray incident, I will begin with Deputy James Vanderveer, whose parents own JailCigs.

James Vanderveer

On March 7, 2010, Vanderveer (who is Arnold's nephew) was arrested in Cobb County, Georgia for possession of marijuana. He later plead guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to community service. He became a full-time officer on Oct. 13, 2014, though he had been with the RCSO for several years prior. A waiver was filed, in connection with the Georgia arrest, with the Police Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) so that he could remain in compliance with their regulations. 

On Feb 7, 2012, Vanderveer resigned from the Sheriff's Office and then was arrested for DUI. He was then re-hired by Sheriff Arnold. So now, this officer has a history of both drug possession and DUI. 

Then, in December 2013, Vanderveer placed inmate Demario Harris in a 4-point restraint (basically tying him to a chair so that he could not use his arms or legs), because, according to Vanderveer, Harris had been combative. However, after having Harris fully restrained and no longer a threat, Vanderveer proceeded to pepper spray Harris in the face. Harris is now seeking $300,000 in damages.

Despite all of this, Vanderveer is still employed by Arnold.

Major Terry McBurney

Major McBurney received a DUI and was demoted to serve in the detention center and received a three day suspension while working under former sheriff Truman Jones. Jones later fired McBurney after allegations of profiting off of evicting residents from rental properties and a bizarre incident involving his wife taking property from a rental unit. Under Sheriff Jones, McBurney was earning $31,430/year. Once Arnold was elected in 2010, he rehired McBurney and gave him a pay raise to $39,060. McBurney's pay was then increased in 2013 to $51,690 after being promoted to captain, and yet again in 2016 when he was made major - now earning $61,902. McBurney has also served as Arnold's traveling companion when he goes out-of-state to pick up extradited criminals.

When asked about this travel, Arnold said he considered it a "perk". He has faced criticism before from members of the County Commission relating to extradition cases. (2015 resulted in the need for $20,000 to be taken from a GED program to cover these travel expenses.) But back to Major McBurney.

McBurney seems to also have at least three Twitter accounts. He set up an account in 2010 with the Twitter name @tpm2b (which Sheriff Arnold follows) and then he created @tmcburney in 2011. That account has no tweets and only 5 followers. Of those 5, one is McBurney's current active Twitter account @tmcb811 (which he set up in 2012) and the other is his wife @ShereeMcB

The 2011 @tmcburney account is blank except for his profile picture.

(Click to enlarge image)

The shirt he's wearing in the picture says "Silly Faggot Dix Are For Chix". While this isn't illegal, it is incredibly offensive and distasteful - particularly for a public employee and officer of the law. One has to question why he chose this image (dated 1995) for his modern public profile (and since by 2011 he was back working at RCSO) and why he decided to create another Twitter account in 2012 instead of simply using the old one and while keeping that picture public?

(Click to enlarge image)

(Click to enlarge image)

Horrible behavior seems to be a prerequisite to be rehired.

Deputy A. J . Ross
Deputy A. J. Ross on July 4, 2013.

Deputy Ross (a "drug recognition expert") is perhaps most known for his role in the July 4th, 2013 DUI checkpoint incident during which he became enraged at local resident Chris Kalbaugh for asserting his legal rights. Deputy Ross then called a drug dog over to search Kalbaugh's car and allegedly found marijuana. However, Ross failed to arrest Kalbaugh and let him drive home. In other words, if we are to believe Ross' story, he let a drug offender drive home with no consequences.

After that affair, he was awarded "Deputy of the Year" by Sheriff Arnold in December 2013. 

Prior to that, Ross was forced to resign from the RCSO in 2004 (under Sheriff Truman Jones) after failing to appear in court to testify when there were dozens of cases on the docket. His personnel file also shows that he lied about having insurance (when he in fact did not have it) after rear-ending another vehicle. Ross was rehired by Sheriff Arnold. Once again, we have someone who was forced to leave law enforcement for illegal activities being rehired by our current sheriff.

Andrew Messick

Andrew Messick was an officer with the Murfreesboro Police Department from 2010 to 2013. In July 2013, he and his wife were arrested for drug possession after a TBI investigation. They attempted to trade their TV to get hydrocodone pills (which the DEA has recently re-classified as a Schedule II narcotic, the highest level of prescription drug). He was initially decommissioned, though later, the MPD Chief of Police recommended that his employment be terminated.

According those working at the Sheriff's Office, Messick, a drug offender, now works at the detention center.

Kenneth Zook

Finally, there's Kenneth Zook. In early 2010, under former Sheriff Truman Jones, Deputy Kenneth Zook was forced to resign after pictures came to light about a party he attended and his refusal to comply with the investigation (which included a drug test). Sheriff Robert Arnold rehired him and he still works for the RCSO.

The issue at hand wasn't that Zook was out partying and drinking, but that at the party were drugs of an unknown type, possibly marijuana, and that all of this was being done in a room with a young child (it was revealed that other children were at the party, but the photos only show one girl). This shows that Zook has very poor judgement in that, being a law enforcement officer at the time, he didn't seem to see any problem with a room full of adults drinking and drugging while a young girl was mingling in the mix. The World Health Organization has found strong links between young children being exposed to such situations and later growing up with behavioral and substance abuse problems themselves.

Here are some of the pictures in question. These pictures had been placed on MySpace at the time and were brought to the attention of Sheriff Jones. I have obscured the faces of everyone except that of Kenneth Zook. I have also tried to hide any unique markings on the clothing of the other attendees in an attempt to further shield their identity. (Click the pictures for a larger view.)

It was also reported to me, from a source (I'll call "Q") who wishes to remain anonymous, that in 2013, after having been re-hired by Arnold earlier, the Zook family was using his position in the RCSO to harass Q and intimidate Q into dropping a legal case. All of this (and more) was reported to multiple people in authority at the time, but as of yet, nothing has been done. As stated earlier, Zook is still employed with the department.

I called the RSCO about further questionable deputies, but at the time of publication I have not received a reply. 

For continual updates, please take the time to visit:
To review the beginnings of the Sheriff Robert Arnold controversy, please see this article.

--Jacob Bogle (Originally published on April 29, 2015. Updated on June 5, 2016.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A History of Sheriff Robert Arnold

NOTE: this list will be updated periodically as new information comes to light. This is a very fluid situation and will require continued attention. For additional updates, please visit the Tennesseans Against Corruption Facebook page on the matter.

2014 Re-election Campaign Logo and photo.

Sheriff Arnold was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Even before being elected, scandal and controversy has followed the Sheriff, but ever since 2013, the spotlight on Sheriff Arnold's department has been growing in intensity, especially after the county received national attention from the July 4th DUI checkpoint video. Recently, we have come to see just how deep the problems go. 

His 2014 campaign slogan was "Fair, Open, Honest, and Accountable". With that, he won re-election with a slim majority of voters. As we are now learning even more, "honest and accountable" is sounding a lot like Obama's "most transparent administration in history." 

I (Jacob Bogle), along with many other concerned citizens, would like to ask Sheriff Arnold to resign from office and spare the 280,000 citizens of Rutherford County any more embarrassment. I would also urge the County Commission to do their duty by taking the ethics complaint against Sheriff Arnold seriously and take appropriate action. 

What follows are years' worth of evidence that calls strongly into question his capacity to represent us. The sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the county. If he doesn't uphold the law and act with utmost integrity, how can we trust him to keep us safe? What example has Sheriff Arnold set? 

In 2009, prior to being elected, Sheriff Arnold (then a School Resource Officer) was disciplined for the way he handled a student's possession of a firearm at LaVergne High School. Arnold failed to investigate the matter, leaving the school and those there at great risk. At the time, Sheriff Truman Jones, demoted Arnold and transferred him to the detention center. As a result, Arnold lost $22,000-$25,000/yr in salary and other compensation. Sheriff Jones said, "it was the least that could have been done to him." In November of 2009, the depositions relating to the case were sealed thanks to murky reasoning, in part, because they could be "embarrassing." 

As sheriff in 2011, Sheriff Arnold wrote a character letter on behalf of family member Chris Rowland. The catch? Rowland was a convicted felon. Rowland was sentenced to two years in prison for five counts of money laundering (a reduced sentence after a plea bargain). According to the Murfreesboro Post:

"Rowland was arrested and charged with possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm, a Rock River Arms .223-caliber machine gun and failing to register it.

Federal agents raided Rowland’s home and brother-in-law Jeremy Chad Smotherman’s home in September 2007 on Warrior Drive across from Riverdale High School as part of an investigation stemming from a $6 million illegal narcotics operation.

In court documents filed in 2008, Internal Revenue Service Agent William Desantis accused Rowland and Smotherman of money laundering as “sham owners” of real estate and engaging in large money transactions with defendants indicted in a $6 million narcotics operation."

Even though Rowland apologized for his wrong doing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harold McDonough of Nashville said, "I can’t reconcile why the chief law enforcement official would write a letter on behalf of a convicted felon". It's also curious that Rowland's family donated $1,000 to Arnold's campaign. 

In Feb. 2012, Deputy James Vanderveer resigned from office after being arrested for driving under the influence. Vanderveer, Arnold's nephew, was later re-hired by Sheriff Arnold. A year later, two additional Sheriff's deputies resigned after being arrested for DUIs. Vadnerveer was also arrested and charged with minor possession in Georgia in March 2010. Much more on Vanderveer to come.

On July 4, 2013, local resident Chris Kalbaugh went through a routine DUI checkpoint. These checkpoints are governed by very specific laws and drivers are only required to roll their windows down far enough so that the officer can both see and smell any signs of alcohol. Sheriff's deputy, A. J. Ross, became incredibly angry that Kalbaugh didn't roll his window all the way down (despite not being required to), and Ross later forcibly searched Kalbaughs car without consent. Ross then sent for a police drug dog to come and search the vehicle (something that can only be done with probable cause, for which there was none). According to the officer, the dog gave a sign that it found drugs in Kalbaugh's car and Officer Ross said he indeed found bits of marijuana. Yet, upon this, he let Kalbaugh drive away without any charges or arrest. 

That fact alone tells me Officer Ross was either lying to help cover up his horrible management of the situation, or was actually abandoning his duties by not following the law and arresting someone with illegal drugs. Sheriff Arnold was a stalwart supporter of Deputy Ross. When I questioned Ross' behavior (specifically why Ross didn't apprehend Kalbaugh after allegedly finding drugs) during a public Q & A with Sheriff Arnold, Arnold tried to dodged the question and then, in essence, said it was busy night and since it wasn't a large amount of drugs, Ross did the right thing by letting Kalbaugh go. 

You can find the original six minute YouTube video here. It has been seen over 5 million times.

Deputy Ross also has an incredibly complicated past, from leaving the department in 2004 to lying about having insurance when he crashed into someone. Yet, he is still supported by Sheriff Arnold.

In December 2014, James Vanderveer made his way back into the news. After restraining inmate Demario N. Harris to a chair in what's called a "4-point restraint," Officer Vanderveer proceeded to pepper spray Harris. Harris, who, again, was fully restrained, was not being combative. Yet, Vanderveer pepper sprayed him for an extended period of time and did not offer Harris the chance to wash out his eyes. Harris is now seeking $300,000 in damages. Sheriff Arnold "reprimanded" Vanderveer, but he is still an employee of the RCSO. Once again, Sheriff Arnold seems to be looking out for his family and buddies, despite their continual appalling behavior.

You can find the video of that incident here.

During Arnold's re-election run, two members of the department filed papers to run against him. Both men, Ralph Mayercik and Jim Tramel, were then the subject of "coincidental" investigations and had to resign from their jobs. Jim Tramel filed suit against the Sheriff's Office and eventually won the case, receiving $250,000.

Under Sheriff Arnold's policy of "good ole boy" administrating, Rutherford County tax payers have already had to pay $250,000 and are on the hook for additional thousands. 

Additionally, during the election, Arnold's campaign manager and Sheriff's Office Chief Administrator, Joe Russell, proceeded to buy various Internet domain names to prevent Arnold's competitors (namely Maj. Bill Kennedy and Capt. Mike Fitzhugh) from being able to use them. Russell also happens to be the husband of Nicole Lester, who was the Rutherford County Administrator of Elections at the time.

Republican candidate Fitzhugh said of the matter, "My take on it was the type of people they are, it was typical. It didn't surprise me."

In March 2015, Sheriff Arnold decided to ignore procedure and bypass the County Commission by going straight to the state in an attempt to take full control over the county workhouse. Sen Bill Ketron was asked to carry the bill and refused saying, "I have the utmost respect for the county commission, having served there for eight years, and I think it was a cheap shot that we introduced it without talking to them first. We blindsided them." The County Commission's Steering Committee later voted 7-0 against merging the workhouse with the jail. Commissioner Petus Read said, "this is somewhat of a power play, when you try to step beyond the mayor without going to the County Commission, I can't see where it's anything but a power play."

All of this brings us to the latest in a long line of bad choices made by Sheriff Arnold.

Arnold's wife and the RCSO chief administrator has connections to a company called "JailCigs" which provides electronic cigarettes to jails. His wife, Megan, holds stock in the company and Arnold has listed it as a source of income. The Georgia-based company is owned by family, uncle and aunt John and Judy Vanderveer. RCSO Chief Administrator, Joe Russell, is also listed as a founding owner of JailCigs LLC, as well as Jail Snacks LLC (another Georgia-based company).

Lisa Nolan, County Finance Director, has said that she hasn't seen any invoices relating to JailCigs; meaning that any income the jail gets from selling them isn't being properly reported. Arnold has said he sees no conflict of interest in the matter.

On April 16, 2015, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced it was looking into the issue after receiving a request from District Attorney Jennings Jones. On April 17, the County Commission Ethics Committee received an official ethics complaint against Sheriff Arnold as well. The Ethics Committee has scheduled a meeting to discuss the matter for April 23 at 4 pm. The meeting will be at the Rutherford County Courthouse.

Additionally, it was revealed on April 21, that Arnold received campaign contributions from many of the same companies the RCSO has contracted with. Some of these groups are, the Keefe Group, City Tele Coin Company, and a political action committee which happens to be controlled by none other than Joe Russell, Arnold's long time acolyte. The Keefe Group donated $500 in 2012 and Keefe Commissary donated $500 in 2013. Two months after receiving the donation from the Keefe Group, Arnold amended a contract with Keefe Commissary, which, according to the Daily News Journal:

"The contract amendment gives Keefe permission to maintain and supply the Sheriff's Office with computer equipment and software to expand the Detention Center's video-visitation system. The amendment is worth "a prorated amount" of $215,106 and is good through Jan. 1, 2018.

According to the contract, the Sheriff's Office is paid a service fee associated with sales of noncommissioned and commissary items. It also establishes an agreement with Keefe to create a website through which families and friends of inmates can order commissary items.

The contract also states the Sheriff's Office's cut of sales are deposited in a technology fund for the video-visitation expansion that allows visitors to interact with inmates from a closed-circuit television."

Rutherford County Mayor, Ernest Burgess, said he was unaware of the amendment or technology fund.

In 2012, Arnold signed a contract with City Tele to provide jail pay-phone services. The owner of City Tele donated $1,500 to Arnold's re-election campaign in 2013.

Joe Russell, RCSO Chief Administrator and Arnold's former campaign manager, was hired by Arnold in 2010. Russell is also the head of the Rutherford County Tea Party PAC, which received $500 in donations from Arnold's campaign in July 2012. In 2013, the PAC donated $400 to Arnold. Russell further donated $3,000 personally to Arnold's campaign.

The Sheriff's Office is also the center of several other issues. There's a JailCig-like computer tablet contract that was not approved by the County Commission. He also allowed a private company to run their own training business out of the Sheriff's Office. There are questions surrounding ammunition purchases by deputies. And, remaining questions over Arnold admitting he watched a man burn to death because, according to Arnold, the uniform might have been flammable (which seems dubious at best), or the silly confiscation of kids' wrestling equipment in 2010.

Again, I implore Sheriff Arnold to do the right thing and resign. He has protected family members after they broke the law and tortured inmates. He sees no conflict of interest over the JailCigs situation. His campaign engaged in unethical tactics and used his office to bully opponents. If he will not uphold the law, he does not deserve to be sheriff.

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Originally published on April 21, 2015 by Jacob Bogle.