Governor Bill Haslam backs Pilot, brother

1:09 PM, Apr 16, 2013   |    comments
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By Chas Sisk, The Tennessean

Gov. Bill Haslam says he was unaware of the raid on Pilot Flying J's Knoxville office until it happened Monday, but he said he is confident the company is not guilty of wrongdoing.

A day after the FBI and Internal Revenue Service locked down the truck stop company owned by the governor's family, Haslam said he learned about the raid from news alerts and said he had little additional information about the subject of the investigation.

Haslam said he spoke with his brother, CEO Jimmy Haslam, Monday night about the raid, but even he did not know the full nature of the inquiry.

"There's a lot of rumors and suspicions, but the truth is nobody knows," Gov. Haslam said. "The company has said they will cooperate fully and I appreciate that. I talked with my brother and he said he doesn't think they did anything wrong, and I have full faith and confidence in him. Meantime, I'm going to go back to being governor."

Gov. Haslam said he had not been contacted by the FBI, IRS or any other law enforcement agency, nor had members of his staff. Haslam also said he did not think Jimmy Haslam had been interviewed by law enforcement yesterday.

Haslam said his understanding is Pilot officials also are investigating the situation internally.

"I don't know that they (Pilot officials) know a whole lot," Haslam said. "They (law enforcement) don't come in with a whole lot of explanations when they come in. It'll all play itself out over a period of time. ...

"I just called last night as his brother to check and see, 'How are you doing?'"

Jimmy Haslam said in an email that the company was under investigation but did not provide details. A Pilot spokesman said Monday that the company did not know the reason for the investigation.

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