Governor Bredesen's Top Aide Resigns

Nashville, Tenn. (AP) -- Dave Cooley, governor Bredesen's top aide and sometime lightning rod for criticism, has resigned.

Bredesen defended Cooley throughout his first term as a longtime friend and ally and told the Associated Press today that he's sorry to see Cooley leave.

One of Cooley's responsibilities was consulting on Tennessee Highway Patrol promotions, a role that came under closer scrutiny after Cooley had a speeding ticket fixed by a lieutenant in late 2004.

Cooley said he didn't ask for any special consideration for the ticket, but a videotape of the traffic stop from the patrol car showed Cooley handed the trooper his business card.

Cooley said he did reflexively as a courtesy.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation looked into the incident, and Cooley was cleared of any criminal behavior by the state attorney general.

But he was reprimanded publicly by the governor and ordered to stay away from involvement with the highway patrol.

Bredesen has said he plans to hire a chief of staff in addition to the existing deputy governor position.

The chief of staff will handle more internal operations, while the deputy governor will address political and constituent issues, he said.