- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has rejected state troopers’ request to work security at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Nashville this weekend.

State Department of Safety spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said Wednesday that eight off-duty troopers had at first been approved to work the NRA event but were later denied because they wanted to bring along their patrol cars. The state had no mechanism to recoup the cost of using the vehicles, she said.

“When that request was denied, the troopers decided not to take on the secondary employment,” Donnals said.

But according to emails obtained by The Associated Press, the NRA’s request for eight plainclothes troopers did not include any call for vehicles. A March 24 email from Linwood Branford of the NRA’s security department to Tennessee Highway Patrol Maj. Danny Talley said the officers were requested to work security during a Friday forum involving several potential Republican presidential candidates.

“This event will be attended by our members as well as many prominent high profile politicians and celebrities alike,” Branford said in the email. “The vast majority of the officers will be utilized around the stage area and or back stage as well as roving the room.”

Some state troopers will be working at the event as part of the protective details for other states’ governments in attendance, Donnals said.

“These troopers will be performing their normal duties as part of the Executive Protection Unit,” she said. “This is not secondary employment.”

The Tennessean reported Tuesday that the NRA is paying more than $200,000 to off-duty Nashville police officers to work security at event. The city’s new convention center will allow attendees to carry firearms during the convention, but the nearby Bridgestone Arena will keep its gun ban in place. About 70,000 people are expected to attend the convention.

Haslam was not invited to speak at the NRA event.

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