Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said state Rep. Joe Carr should refund the state any expenses he incurred when the legislature was out of session if he is sincere about his ignorance to the legislature’s per diem policy.

“If Mr. Carr didn’t know he was going to be reimbursed for those expenses, he shouldn’t have a problem paying back the taxpayers,” Forrester said. “Show me the money, Mr. Carr, and put it where your mouth is.

“It is disingenuous to claim you didn’t know you would be reimbursed for those expenses and then turn around and say that you deserve the money nonetheless.”

“Per diem” payments reimburse lawmakers for official expenses. Legislators must request out-of-session per diem, which includes out-of-state travel and out-of-session trips to the Legislature’s offices in Nashville.

Carr claimed nearly $17,000 in per diem, more than House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol, according to the General Assembly’s administrative office. Carr’s per diem requests included more than $7,300 in out-of-session work-day expenses. Carr also asked to be reimbursed $1,425.60 in mileage expenses, bringing his total expense claims to $18,354.60.

“Mr. Carr is a freshman legislator with no leadership responsibilities,” Forrester said. “He should be more mindful of spending our hard-earned tax dollars and less inclined to feather his own nest.”

Two other House members representing the Murfreesboro area, Democrat Kent Coleman, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, and Republican Donna Rowland each only claimed $12,825 in per diem.

Additionally, Coleman claimed only $379.80 in out-of-session per diem, and Rowland claimed $1,177.20 in out-of-session per diem. Coleman filed $756 in mileage expense while Rowland claimed $831.60 in mileage expense.

“Mr. Carr’s excessive spending habits on the taxpayer’s dime are part of the reason people have become so skeptical with government,” Forrester said. “Mr. Carr should spend more of his time in Rutherford County listening to the people he is supposed to represent and less of it in Nashville.”

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