A Knox County employee who gets “preferential treatment,” according to a complaint to the state comptroller, is very often at the home of the official who hired him and signed time cards for him.

A complaint to the state comptroller and anonymous emails to county commissioners accuse Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett of violating nepotism laws in the hiring of his stepson, a county laborer with a history of legal troubles.

Tyler Steven McCree, the son of Burchett’s wife, was living in the mayor’s home and listed Burchett as his No. 1 reference when he applied for the job on March 21, 2015.

He was hired five months later, despite a county policy that prohibits an “elected or appointed official to advocate, supervise, manage or cause the employment” of a relative within county government. Step-child is listed among the relations covered by the policy.

In an interview, Burchett said McCree got the job without his involvement. The comptroller’s complaint, obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee from the complainant on condition the person not be identified, alleges: “No other candidate would have been considered for even a split second having the same record as McCree.”Complaints to the comptroller are not public record.

Chris Caldwell, county finance director, said he knew Benjamin Bean, 26, before he was hired May 1, 2017, to a temporary $41,600-a-year job as a financial analyst.“He said he was interested in a temporary job,” Caldwell said, “and I said I had one that was coming open.”

The complaint, filed March 11, alleges that, after he was hired, Bean often failed to report to work at the City-County Building and his signature on time cards frequently was “forged.”

Caldwell acknowledged signing Bean’s name to time cards. He said he kept separate records of Bean’s hours and sometimes signed his time cards because many of his assignments were outside the City-County Building. The assignments, Caldwell said, sometimes involved confidential matters such as possible new locations for the Knox County Schools administrative offices.

News Reporter

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