Tennessee congressman defends paying salary to felon son
Posted July 7
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee congressman says there was nothing improper about paying his son $300,000 for campaign work in the years after the younger man pleaded guilty to misconduct in office.
Republican Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. told the Knoxville News Sentinel he paid John Duncan III to head his political operations and perform work ranging from putting up yard signs to fundraising.
"He was paid far less than many campaign managers and consultants while doing many things that they would not do," Duncan said.
John Duncan III was widely expected to seek to succeed his father and grandfather in Congress until he resigned as Knox County trustee. He pleaded guilty in 2013 to felony official misconduct for authorizing bonuses for himself and others for training that none had completed.
The congressman told the newspaper he pays family members as campaign workers because he has "the utmost trust" in his family.
"Every expenditure from my campaign has been done according to law and in compliance with all pertinent regulations of the Federal Election Commission," he said. "Many members of Congress, past and present, have paid family members for campaign work. The fact that family members have run, and worked in, my campaigns has been public for a long time."
The payments to the younger Duncan were first reported by KnoxTNToday.com.
The Duncans have been a prominent political family in the Knoxville area for more than a half century. An annual family barbeque draws thousands, and is a required stop for aspiring officeholders during campaign season.
Jimmy Duncan, a former Knox County criminal court judge, succeeded his father, John Duncan Sr., in Congress in 1988. The elder Duncan, who died a month after announcing he was leaving office, had held the seat since 1964. He had previously served as Knoxville mayor.
Jimmy Duncan has not yet said whether he will seek another term in Congress next year.