State comptroller audits Oakland mayor’s office

OAKLAND, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Fayette County district attorney are talking about the findings of an investigation into questionable practices by the mayor of the town of Oakland.

A state audit sparked the investigation in a town that's no stranger to controversy. In 2013 the city's mayor, Scott Ferguson, stepped down after corruption accusations.

Years of town finances are under review, and on Tuesday the mayor's office in the small town of Oakland in the hot seat.

The state says payment to a former town recorder, Tammy HighTower, of more than $45,000 was against town policy and that more than 1,500 hours of earned payment could not be verified.

The investigation also found Mayor Chris Goodman was conducting much of his private-sector work from the mayor's office and was often unavailable to employees throughout the day.

Finally investigators also discovered the city entered into a no-bid contract with a private company to upgrade computer systems. The city shelled out more than $52,000. The state says the company was directed to invoice the town in a way that would circumvent the town's purchasing policies.

WREG questioned the mayor about the state comptroller's investigation, and he said he made some honest mistakes.

"There were mistakes made. I don't necessarily agree with in the report in the way it's stated, but to me it's an opportunity to make sure we do things a little better," said Goodman.

Goodman said many issues have been taken care of, like payments to the town recorder.

"Over a year now that's been taken care of, we're managing the comp time making sure no one goes over," he explained.

As to the accusation Goodman is using his mayor's office for his personal job — "I don't necessarily agree that there is an issue. The town gets more than 40 hours a week."

The TBI conducted its own investigation into the Mayor's Office as well at the request of the Fayette County district attorney.

On Tuesday he told us in part, "Despite the seven findings of mismanagement, incompetence, poor record-keeping, questionable practices, policy and municipal code violations, significant lack of internal controls and general waste...there is no evidence Goodman or Hightower intentionally violated the law."

The DA said the questionable purchases and expenditures were all approved by the town's attorney, the board of aldermen or someone in authority.

He also said there will not be criminal charges unless new information comes to light.