Draft Day: Is Haslam investigation a distraction?

7:51 PM, Apr 25, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- For Browns fans, it's a Draft Day distraction: Jimmy Haslam in hot water.

Pilot Flying J is the nation's sixth largest private company, a family company, now questioned as corrupt. The fraud investigation stems back to 2011, but in 10 days, the 'House that Haslam Built' has started to crumble.

On Thursday, a Georgia attorney filed a temporary restraining order, accusing Haslam of witness tampering by calling the trucking companies allegedly cheated in a salesmen rebate scheme.

His lawyer, Audrey Harwell, of Nashville, calls the suit ludicrous. But the damaging remarks are rebounding across the family.

The founding father Jim Haslam told a Knoxville crowd Pilot would correct any problems and pay anyone they owe back.

"Pilot Flying J has been very visible the past week. I just want you to know that Jimmy didn't do anything wrong," he's quoted as saying at a Leadership Knoxville event Tuesday.

Jimmy's brother Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's political power could be impacted by the probe.

Politico recently called him, "the most important Republican governor you've never heard of," who relied heavily on the family success story during his first campaign.

Now ramping up for a second campaign,  the name Haslam could be a liability for a popular leader that could have been a vice presidential candidate as soon as 2016.

Jimmy Haslam admits the investigation has rocked the company, but it's also rocked Clevelanders, ready for a fresh start this football season.

Channel 3 News will continue to follow the investigation as new developments come to light. It could be months before charges are filed.

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