Sunday, April 02, 2006

Your State Government at Work

I'll let the Tennessean tell it:
Until three weeks ago, the state's emergency management agency employed a prison inmate to oversee its purchasing and for a time did not restrict his access to a storage area where guns were kept, The Tennessean has learned.

The inmate, Daniel D. Erickson, is serving eight years for trying to hire a hit man to help him kill his wife. His wife alleged in divorce papers that the 2001 murder plot was aimed at fraudulently collecting a $225,000 life insurance policy after he got into financial trouble.... Erickson was disbarred as a lawyer as a result of his crime.
Oh, but that's not all:
TEMA officials provided Erickson with a state cell phone and a state vehicle so he could go to the post office and act as a courier between the agency's two Nashville offices. He had an annual state salary of $26,000.

Erickson's employment with TEMA abruptly ended three weeks ago when an anonymous tip led state Correction Department officials to investigate his use of the cell phone and vehicle.

State Correction Commissioner George Little said the investigation found that the Correction Department had never granted Erickson permission to use the TEMA-issued cell phone.

Correction had granted him permission to use the state vehicle, but the investigation found he was driving places he had not been authorized to go.
So how did he get this job? Who did he know and who supported him?
State personnel records list his address as a home on East Thompson Lane in Nashville that is the residence of another TEMA employee, Bill Cooper. Cooper was responsible for hiring Erickson and is listed as his supervisor on a Department of Correction work-release form.

Erickson ranked fourth on the employment register among the handful of people who interviewed for the job, officials said. New state workers can be picked from among the top five candidates, state Personnel Department spokeswoman Lola Potter said.

There are no blanket rules about hiring felons in state government, Potter said. Each state department has its own specific rules on who may or may not be hired, she said.

TEMA never did a background check on Erickson because he wasn't in a job that required a security clearance or any sort of access to sensitive information from the federal level, Bassham said. Erickson disclosed his felony conviction on his job application, state records show.

TEMA is part of the state Military Department, headed by state National Guard chief Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett Jr. His son, Tre' Hargett, is a state representative from Bartlett, the Memphis suburb where Erickson had a law practice at the time he hatched the murder plot.

Tre' Hargett said he knew Erickson's name but was not familiar with him. "I don't think he was real active in the community," he said Friday.
Yeah, prison has that effect on social activities.

It's a bit of of a hobby with me to trace all the interconnections of poltical offices and family/friends of office holders. We see the connection between Hargetts here, but what about Bill Cooper. I know Cooper is a fairly common name, but could he be any relation to State Senator "Railroad" Jerry Cooper or US Congressman Jim Cooper? I'm curious.

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