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Beavers could face ethics fine of up to $10,000

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By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post

State officials say District 17 State Sen. Mae Beavers could face a monetary penalty of up to $10,000 for failing to disclose what she says is a $50,000 loan in 2010, although it is unlikely the Tennessee Ethics Board would levy such a penalty because the loan was disclosed this week, almost two years after the transaction.

Audit Director Jay Moeck with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance said the loan, which was reportedly made in May 2010, would have to be disclosed at that time.

Some loans need to be disclosed, some dont, but a business loan like that certainly would need to be, Moeck said, adding the Ethics Commission would have to see the details of the transaction.

A recent lawsuit filed in Wilson County Chancery Court by Beavers and her husband Jerry Beavers claims Katheryne Belle received a $50,000 loan from Beavers to purchase a portion of interest in a Macon County newspaper. Belle, along with others, was seeking to purchase the newspaper. However, Belle, in her answer filed Tuesday to Beavers complaint, says Beavers financial contribution was an investment.

According to Statement of Disclosure of Interests form on the Ethics Commission website, Beavers failed to mention the $50,000 loan to Belle in her statement filed in April 2011. According to the lawsuit, Beavers loan was given on or around May 26, 2010.

Former State Rep. Susan Lynn, a political foe of Beavers, wrote on her Facebook page that Beavers committed an ethics violation for not disclosing the loan at the time it was given in 2010. She said state law requires loans of more than $10,000 to be disclosed with the Ethics Commission.

It is on her current disclosure form, Moeck said, which could be enough to avoid a monetary penalty against Beavers.

Moeck said failure to disclose could result in a Class 2 Civil Penalty of up to $10,000. However, since the loan is currently disclosed, if an ethics complaint was filed, the Ethics Commission is unlikely to administer the penalty.

They are less likely to do anything since it is currently disclosed, Moeck said.

Lynn also questioned Beavers ethics in buying an interest in a newspaper within her district and not disclosing the information to the Ethics Commission. Lynn, who was accused and cleared of an Ethics violation during the 2010 campaign, when she ran against Beavers, said investments must also be filed with the Ethics Commission.

In the lawsuit, Beavers claims the $50,000 was not an investment in a Limited Liability Corporation, but a loan to Belle and her nephew John Cook.

The lawsuit also claims that Belle and Cook have made some payments on the loan, but not all required payments. It states Cook and Belle have failed to make payments that were requested of principle or interest. Beavers states in her complaint that there was no promissory note signed and no collateral provided by Belle.

Beavers also filed the Statement of Disclosure form on Jan. 30, 2012 with the Ethics Commission and that form contains no mention of the loan to Belle.

However, another form was filed on Monday, Feb. 13, in which Beavers lists Belle and Cook under the Sources of Income, with a pass through interest on personal loan.

The form filed on Feb. 13 indicates no actual income is obtained from the loan or payments from Belle and Cook on the loan.

Neither Lynn nor Beavers returned calls by press time for this story.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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