Knox County Employees On Leave After Report of 'Potential Wrongdoing'

Oct 14, 2020

The City-County Building in downtown Knoxville is seen in this undated file photo.
Credit Knox County

Two top Knox County employees are on leave and an investigation is in progress, the county mayor's office announced Wednesday.

Mayoral Chief of Staff Bryan Hair and Parks and Recreation Director Paul White were placed on leave with pay Tuesday, Mayor Glenn Jacobs said. The order came after Jacobs received word of "potential wrongdoing," but Jacobs offered no details on what that meant.

The situation, first reported by Compass Knox, may involve financial matters. Jacobs said Pugh CPA, Knox County's outside auditor, will handle the investigation. The mayor's office also said Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell asked for a meeting with the state comptroller's office, the agency responsible for local government audits.

The investigation may take several weeks, Jacobs said. Hair told Compass Knox he will fully cooperate with the probe.

Knox County Commmission Chair Larsen Jay commmended Jacobs for ordering the investigation. "All county officials found to have acted inappropriately should be held accountable. There’s nothing more important than earning and maintaining the public’s trust," Jay said in a statment Wednesday evening.

Hair was campaign manager for Jacobs' successful 2018 run for the county mayor's office. After the election, he led the transition team and was named Jacobs' chief of staff. White was named to lead Parks and Recreation in September 2018. Hair and White worked at Tennessee State Bank before joining Jacobs' staff.