Tennessee passed Governor Bill Lee’s voucher bill by one vote, and the FBI is investigating whether the change of that vote at the last minute was the result of an illegal bribe. 

At the time, it appeared that the incentive for the one lawmaker was a promise not to offer vouchers in HIS district.

FBI agents have begun interviewing Tennessee lawmakers about whether any improper incentives were offered to pass Gov. Bill Lee’s school vouchers bill in the state House, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned.

That vouchers legislation narrowly passed the state House last month on a 50-48 vote. The vote was initially deadlocked 49-49, and House Speaker Glen Casada kept the vote open for 40 minutes until he convinced Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, to switch his vote.

NewsChannel 5 has learned that agents are interested in discovering whether anything of value – such as campaign contributions – were offered by anyone in return for votes.

I must confess that my first reaction to this story was ho-hum; I couldn’t believe that the FBI is investigating whether state legislators vote because of incentives, since we often see them doing it in the open. And then there was the FBI raid on Gulen offices in Ohio, where they carried away boxes of papers. And nothing more was heard of it. And then there was the federal indictment of Ben Chavis of the American Indian Model Charter Schools in Oakland, who was alleged to have diverted $3.8 million from the schools’ bank account to his own businesses, as well as using federal charter funding to pay himself rent; and those charges were recently dropped on grounds that there was no material damage.