RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – According to a January document, the Rutherford County sheriff lists e-cigarettes sold to inmates in the jail as a source of income.
The 2015 disclosure statement titled Tennessee Ethics Commission Statement of Disclosure of Interests also indicates Sheriff Robert Arnold’s wife derives investment benefits from the sale of JailCigs as well. Click here to see the statement in full.
Sheriff Arnold doesn’t believe it’s a conflict of interest.
He said for the past year, inmates in his jail have been smoking electronic cigarettes by the Georgia company.
The web site indicates the smokeless cigs sell for $12.95.
They’re ordered online then mailed to Rutherford County inmates.
Sheriff Arnold admits that JailCigs is owned by his aunt and uncle, and that his wife is employed part-time by the company.
“I don’t really have anything to do with it,” he added. “My wife has worked part time with it, answering the phones.”
However, the document states he derives financial benefits from JailCigs.
Sheriff Arnold told News 2 he errantly filled out the form, and the cigarette company is in fact not a source of income.
“When I wrote it down, I was under the gun and started writing last minute and just put it in the wrong place,” he explained.
When asked if profits somehow do make it into his bank account because of his wife, Sheriff Arnold replied, “Pretty much yes.”
He later said, “She gets a paycheck like anyone else.”
Sheriff Arnold also said he got the blessing for the relationship from the county attorney. Calls to the attorney from News 2 have yet to be returned.
News 2 spoke with Lisa Nolan, the Rutherford County Finance Director, and her much money from the sale of the e-cigarettes at the jail is seen by the county. She said none.
And in light of the controversy, Sheriff Arnold said he is considering killing the program.