Ex-Commissioner Says Deputy Governor Asked Him to Hire His Wife

Knoxville (AP) -- A sworn deposition by the former State Safety Commissioner states Deputy Governor Dave Cooley helped his wife get a job at the Safety Department in one of his first acts in Governor Bredesen's Administration.

Fred Phillips gave the deposition in former Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Bryan Farmer's lawsuit against Cooley, Phillips and several others with ties to the Patrol over what Farmer claims was political retaliation. Parts of the deposition were filed in federal court in Knoxville Tuesday and reviewed by the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

Farmer, a Republican, claims he was fired after a campaign of harassment for not supporting Bredesen's election. His superiors said he tampered with documents in an Internal Affairs probe.

Melanie Cooley worked as Phillips' executive assistant for a first year and a half. She was transferred from the Safety Department after allegations that Safety Department officials arranged for a speeding ticket issued to her husband to be dismissed.

Melanie Cooley declined comment. Dave Cooley could not be reached on his cell phone for comment.

Copyright 2006 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.