Bill Phillips recall, Knox County Public Schools, Tennessee, 2010

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A notice of intent to recall Bill Phillips, a board member of the Knox County Public Schools, was filed on September 1, 2009. Although recall supporters hoped to be able to collect enough signatures to force a recall vote in August 2010, the effort fell short of collecting the required signatures by a late December 2009 deadline.

Phillips first took office in September 2008. The recall petition, to force a vote, had to be signed by 15% of registered voters in the district Phillips represents. 3,819 people voted in the election.[1][2]

Petition language

On September 14, 2009 the county election commission deferred approving the petition's language in order to seek clarification about the recall. Commission Chairman Chris Heagerty said that the recall, if approved, might be challenged in court.[3] On September 22, the commission ruled that the petition had to be amended before it could move forward. Specifically, officials said that the petition must address only one question and must include a reference to the Knox County Charter.[4]

Campaign finance documents

Recall supporters filed a complaint against Phillips in September 2009 alleging that he forged the signatures of his wife and treasurer on a campaign finance disclosure statement. Phillips admitted to the infraction but said that he held power of attorney for his wife, and had the express permission of his treasurer to sign that document. Additionally, Phillips said that for substantive fraud to have occurred, he would have to have stood in some way to gain from it, but that he gained nothing from signing the campaign documents.[5]

Recall amendment controversy

The Knoxville News Sentinel took the occasion of the Phillips recall to discuss the recall amendment enacted in the county in 2008. In an editorial, the paper says that the 2008 amendment turns out to make recalls unworkable because if a recall election were to successfully remove Philips from office, a successor would not be chosen for two years. According to the editorial: "It is worth county commissioners' time to review the recall amendment and work with election commissioners - not necessarily to make it easier to recall a public official but to make it less cumbersome, less complicated and definitely less expensive."

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