Minority Chamber CEO: “It’s a smear campaign” - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Minority Chamber CEO: “It’s a smear campaign”

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – The embattled Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce appeared before the Hamilton County Commission to respond to questions regarding its finances.

The questions stem from an audit by the Chattanooga City Council into the organization.

The City Council requested the TMCC answer 18 questions on what it called "extravagant" spending, including high-rent offices, large salary for its CEO and unaccounted travel expenses.

[Read the TMCC's response to City Council's audit questions]

TMCC board chairman John Taylor tells commissioners at this point they are simply trying to repair the organizations reputation.

"[We're] not here asking for money, it's an issue of integrity," Taylor says. "Look at our work."

TMCC Executive Director Sherrie Gilchrist says she believes there is an agenda behind the audit and the subsequent investigation into the organizations finances.

"It's a smear campaign," Gilchrist tells Channel 3 Eyewitness News.

However, when pressed, Gilchrist would not go into details about her accusation.

The organization could be faced with even more issues.

David Johnson, the president of the Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution, tells our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the TMCC is now being investigated by the FBI.

An investigation by Channel 3 Eyewitness News into the TMCC's finances revealed the organization had failed to make payments in recent months on a $579,000 loan from the Chattanooga's Community Development Financial Institutions.                                    

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is also investigating the circumstances of a $500,000 grant to the TMCC, $200,000 of which was used to buy three properties on MLK Boulevard, for far more than their appraised values for tax purposes.

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