- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - State officials have authorized a special audit of Tennessee State Museum operations after its executive director received a 26 percent pay raise.

Museum officials announced the audit last week, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/2joW0rr).

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, a member of the board that oversees museum operations, had called for the probe in an October email to State Comptroller Justin Wilson, arguing that the circumstances under which longtime museum executive director Lois Riggins-Ezell received a pay raise in 2016 were “murky and unknown.”

Museum officials are meeting this week to consider selection of a successor to Riggins-Ezzell, who retired Dec. 31.

In a 2015 audit, the comptroller raised concerns over questionable hiring practices and the institution’s failure to keep track of alcoholic beverages kept at the museum.

Also getting a pay raise last year was Mary Jane Crockett-Green, executive assistant to the executive director and currently acting executive director following Riggins-Ezzell’s departure. Crockett-Green advised commission members of the pending audit in an email last week.

“In addition to re-examining the museum’s internal controls and confirming that all statutory requirements are being met, one of the primary objectives of the audit is to ensure that the corrective actions to mediate past findings are being appropriately implemented,” Crockett-Green wrote in the email.

The audit was scheduled before Ashe sent his October letter, said John Dunn, spokesman for the comptroller’s office. The office plans to release the audit in late summer or early fall, Dunn said.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com

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