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As an elected or appointed official, there are various ways to respond when a reporter puts a microphone in your face and asks about some questionable spending of public money. “No comment” always works fine, or angry silence while charging towards the exit. One thing that’s apparently less effective: telling a reporter “That’s exactly the bitch I thought you’d be.” Oh?
We can take this unnecessary lesson from Ron Buchanan, the former Chairman for the Davidson County Election Commission, who has tendered his resignation after the investigative team at Nashville’s WSMV found he and Election Administrator Kent Wall were spending a lot of money that wasn’t theirs on restaurants and picture frames.
WSMV’s Alanna Autler asked Buchanan on camera why he and Wall spent money on several purported business dinners in the ritzy suburb of Belle Meade, and why Wall, in Autler’s words, “spent $140 for a frame of the Nashville skyline, nearly $150 for lamps and bookends and $614 to frame a map of Metro’s districts” around the same time. Those fun purchases, she pointed out, happened around the same time the Election Commission shut down early voting sites, citing money being tight and all.
Buchanan did a sort of medium job defending himself and keeping his head:
“Is it acceptable that you went to a restaurant such as Sperry’s for something that was Davidson County Election Commission business?” Autler asked.
“That charge was for a business meeting to discuss the budget on June 30 when the budget was approved July 1 and it was a very legitimate purchase,” Buchanan said.
“Could you have gone to another restaurant that was perhaps not as expensive?” Autler asked.
“That’s it,” Buchanan said, walking away from the camera.
“Can you explain the picture frame that was $614?” Autler asked.
“That’s it,” Buchanan said.
“That’s it?” Autler said.
“That’s exactly the bitch I thought you would be,” Buchanan said.
In the video, which is a delight and which you should watch in full, Autler responds, calmly, “Wow,” before inviting Buchanan to repeat himself for the camera.
Buchanan resigned on Monday, before the story even aired, but told The Tennessean he doesn’t regret calling Autler a bitch, because he feels she is a bitch:
“I said it. I meant it. I still mean it,” Buchanan said. “That was the one word that I could think of that accurately conveyed what I was thinking at that time.
“I should not have used that terminology, but as the media has the freedom of press, individuals have the freedom of speech. And I can tell her what I think about her. And I did that, and I don’t apologize for it. There are people that don’t think I should have done it and that it hurts politics in this area, and so be it.”
Well, then it’s fine, isn’t it?
Nasvhille Mayor Megan Barry says she’s investigating the Election Commisson’s spending. Autler is celebrating appropriately, and we applaud her.
Clip via WSMV. Big Time Small-Time Dicks logo by staff male Bobby Finger.