The attorney hired by the Cookeville City Council to investigate CRMC’s hiring of Ricky Shelton said he did nothing wrong in taking the position.
“We conclude Mr. Shelton’s actions did not violate the City of Cookeville Charter or any state law regarding Conflicts of Interest,” Attorney William Carver wrote in a letter to City Manager James Mills. “Specifically, Mr. Shelton’s pursuit and acceptance of employment with CRMC did not involve a contract ‘for the performance of any work that is to be paid for out of the [City] treasury’ as prohibited by Tenn. Code Ann. $ 6-54-107.”
Carver said in the letter dated Wednesday, some slight variations exist in specific dates among those involved. However, Shelton learned of the job through his brother, a CRMC employee and others. 17 people applied for the new position that CEO Paul Korth decided to expand upon the retirement of Melahn Finley. Shelton was one of two who interviewed. Prior to accepting the job and during the hiring process, Shelton reached out to the city attorney to make sure the process met the rules and procedures of the city.
During the investigation, Carver interviewed all Council members, Council attorney and CRMC Board Member Danny Rader, and CRMC General Counsel Luke Hill. Carver said he did not believe the investigation necessitated an interview with other CRMC employees or members of the board.
Council Member Charles Womack said during a February city council meeting there was “appearance of impropriety.” Carver said he did not see a standard that could be used involved municipal officers to form such a conclusion.