Durham spent campaign funds on UT tickets

Before becoming only the second lawmaker expelled from the Tennessee General Assembly since the Civil War, Jeremy Durham spent nearly $1,000 in campaign funds on University of Tennessee tickets.

Using campaign funds for personal purposes is against state law, and Durham is already under investigation by state campaign ethics officials for possibly breaking this law.

Durham's latest campaign finance report indicates he spent $956.20 on Aug. 7 for "tickets" purchased from "UT Special Events" in Knoxville. Durham, an avid UT sports fan, was recenlty kicked out of the football game between the Volunteers and the University of Florida after he hit a Gators fan in the face.

The purchase came three days after Sam Whitson handily defeated Durham in the GOP primary for the Williamson County seat that Durham had held since 2011.

Karen Ann Simsen, director of media and internal relations for the University of Tennessee, told The Tennessean on Thursday Durham purchased tickets for several football games prior to being ousted from the legislature.

"He officially was still in office," Simsen said.

"Every August we send a letter from the president's office to members of the General Assembly. We give them an opportunity to purchase two tickets per game, per home game and a couple of away games," Simsen said.

Simsen said lawmakers must pay full price, and they are required to show up in person when picking up their tickets in order to prevent reselling the tickets. While Simsen confirmed that Durham still has tickets for a few of the remaining home games, as of Thursday afternoon she was uncertain as to how many tickets the Franklin Republican had purchased overall. There are four more UT football home games.

State campaign ethics investigators announced earlier this year they are looking into whether Durham used campaign funds for personal purposes.

Tennessee law expressly prohibits using campaign funds to purchase tickets to sporting events "unless the event is an expense associated with a legitimate campaign or officeholder activity, where the tickets to such event are provided to students attending schools, guests or constituents of the candidate or officeholder, or persons involved in the candidate's or officeholder's campaign."


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