While the Bredesen administration tries to hold Lt. Ronnie Shirley solely responsible for the illegal background checks, will Shirley again go unpunished and be rewarded for his political favors?
The THP has given no indication why Shirley was doing the background checks. The agency leadership and Gov. Phil Bredesen initially suggested he was a "nosy" trooper with too much time on his hands. But the administration announced his termination with the investigation still ongoing after receiving sharp criticism for the way the matter had been handled.
Shirley is the politically connected officer who helped fix a speeding ticket in 2004 for then-Deputy Gov. Dave Cooley.
It later came out that the patrol leadership at the time faked a punishment for Shirley in an effort to throw off the press and public.
It remains to be seen whether the punishment against Shirley sticks this time. Other officers who have been terminated have fought that decision in the state's civil service appeal process and won.