Lawmakers to Consider Ouster Legislation

Lawmakers should examine legislation that makes it easier to oust an elected official facing charges such as Sheriff Robert Arnold, state Sen. Bill Ketron said.

“There should be some way to have that individual removed from office, so that’s something my office is going to be looking at,” the Murfreesboro Republican senator said during a Monday phone interview. “I think we need to review the law to see what is available to help protect the citizens. We are going to be looking at what could be done, but it would take a vote in both houses and have to be signed by the governor to change that.”

Arnold, his uncle John Vanderveer and Joe Russell, the sheriff’s office’s chief of accounting, face a 14-count federal indictment accusing them of illegally profiting off inmates through the sale of JailCigs, an electronic cigarettes business. Their trial is scheduled Aug. 2 in Nashville.

The Rutherford County Commission members have talked about pursuing an ouster suit with attorney John T. Bobo, but many are also worried that civil litigation involving depositions could interfere with the criminal case.

Although they are not pursuing an ouster suit at this time, the commissioners in a 21-0 vote on Thursday followed state Sens. Ketron and Jim Tracy in urging Arnold to resign.

“I understand why he’s not resigning,” Ketron said. “I’m sure he needs to make money, and he needs to plea bargain with a goal to get a lesser sentence.”

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