(Memphis) - Many of us would like to get free rent and that’s exactly what one Collierville state lawmaker did with a high-dollar home in Nashville.
However, State Rep. Curry Todd`s living arrangements are now in question by those he represents. A lobbyist allowed Todd to stay rent-free in his upscale Nashville home back in 2011.
Todd says there`s nothing wrong with it because they`re friends, but some of the people he represents have a problem with it.
Rep. Todd lost his Collierville home in a divorce a couple of years ago. There was a time when people had no idea if the man representing them even lived among them. Citizens believe the Nashville home may explain why they didn't see him around town.
“We all take the wrong road every once in a while, but I think his road keeps getting more twisted,” said Marcy McConnell, one of Todd's former neighbors.
She reacts to the Todd's latest questionable action. The lawmaker admits to living rent free in an upscale Nashville home in 2011 when it was owned by lobbyist Chuck Welch. State ethics law forbids lobbyists from providing gifts, including housing, to lawmakers.
“I think it’s one more punch line in a series of jokes that is Curry Todd,” said McConnell. “Every time he does something, it`s just people going, `not again`.”
In a written statement to the Tennessean newspaper, Todd admitted he lived in the home, but won`t say for how long. He says it was a gesture between friends and nothing else.
Todd chaired the House and State Government Committee in 2011 until he was removed for picking up a DUI and gun charge. Welch’s lobbying firm often had bills coming before the powerful committee. While Todd says there`s nothing wrong here, those he represents say the Nashville home sounds shady.
“[You know] that old phrase, `one hand washes the other` so it sounds like there are favors being traded,” said McConnell.
Then there is the question of per Diem. Todd collected over $29,000 of taxpayer money for his travel and housing even though he was living rent-free in the Nashville home.
“I think at one time Curry was a good man and had the right ideas for Collierville, but I really think it’s been a long time and we need someone new,” McConnell said.
Representative Todd did not return News Channel 3’s phone calls on Sunday, but in his prepared statement to the Tennessean he noted a part of the ethics law says gifts may be exchanged in longtime friendships between lawmakers and lobbyists. Watch dog groups say this normally means minor things like birthday presents, not free rent.