Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Governor Says He's Baffled by FBI Raid on Pilot

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Gov. Bill Haslam paid a visit to the Legislative Plaza pressroom a few minutes ago—the first time he's ever done that—to talk about yesterday's FBI raid on Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville. He told us he doesn't know any more about this investigation than we do, but expressed "faith and confidence" in his brother Jimmy, the company CEO and owner of the Cleveland Browns.

"I thought there might be some questions for me so I thought I’d come down and address that to the best of my ability," the governor said. "Obviously when something like this happens, there’s gossip and suspicion about what happened, and the truth is nobody knows. I don’t know either. I don’t know really anymore of the facts that what you do.

"I’ve spoken with my brother who said they were going to cooperate fully and that he firmly believes they haven’t done anything wrong, and I have faith and confidence in him. Beyond that I don’t really know a lot. So I’m going to go back to being governor and doing the things I can control."

Update: Big brother says the feds are investigating claims that Pilot failed to pay rebates to trucking customers.

The Q&A with the governor:

Q: What have they told you about what the FBI is investigating?

Haslam: They came in looking for certain records and that’s all I know. I know literally what you know about that.

Q: Did they stop by your office yesterday?

Haslam: No.

Q: Have you been in touch with the FBI?

Haslam: Absolutely not. I haven’t had any conversations with any legal authority at all.

Q: When was the last time you were involved operationally with Pilot?

Haslam: ’98.

Q: What is your role in Pilot now?

Haslam: Shareholder.

Q: You have no role in management?

Haslam: I haven’t in 15 years.

Q: Do you have any issues with the FBI coming in to this prominent business without at least saying here’s why we’re doing this?

Haslam: In a deal like this, there’s obviously a lot of speculation of all sorts. It’s not fair for me to play that game in terms of why they would do it that way.

Q: Do you know what kind of records the FBI was going after?

Haslam: I really don’t.

Q: Are you attempting to find out anything else, or are you distancing yourself from this?

Haslam: I don’t know that I would say that. It’s not my job. I’ve got a full-time job being the governor.

Q: Do you worry how it looks?

Haslam: Well sure. To say you didn’t would not exactly be honest. That’s a business that obviously my family’s involved in, people I care a lot about. So to say it doesn’t feel like a big deal is wrong.

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