SCOTT COUNTY, Va. - On Monday, the Associated Press released a review on questionable spending by the Virginia Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. That organization is more commonly known as the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
Money was given to projects in Scott County that are run by relatives of the commission's chairman, Delegate Terry Kilgore.
That report stated the grants were not illegal, but questionable due to the relationships. Kilgore's father is the President of the Scott County Telephone Cooperative's board, and his brother, John Kilgore Jr., is the director of the Scott County Economic Development Authority. Both received grants from the commission.
The commission provides grants to promote economic development in former tobacco-dependent communities. Virginia State Senator Bill Carrico serves on the 31-member commission. He said the money is split between two regions in the state.
"About 70 percent of those dollars go to southside, about 30 percent of those dollars come to southwest to be utilized for projects," Carrico added.
We researched just how the grant proposal works. Each must go through a three step process before any money is given out. Each member of the commission has one vote equal to the next member, including Chairman Terry Kilgore.
"Terry cannot, as a chairman, make a motion for any projects that go on," Carrico said.
Kilgore says several of the projects in Scott County are a need for that community.
"Scott County Telephone is the only provider of services in Scott County, so if we're going to have broadband in Scott County, we're going to have to work with Scott County Telephone Co-op," Kilgore added.
Kilgore told us those projects, including broadband expansion, helped the area exceed goals set by the state.
Carrico said the projects have to be approved just like any other request.
"Scott County Telephone Co-op that utilized some tobacco grant dollars has done the same that everyone else has done," Carrico said.
Kilgore says the end goal is to create jobs.
"But before you can get those jobs, you've got to have a building, so that's why we invested," Kilgore said.
Executive Director for the Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Bill Franklin, said Kilgore's father is a member of a board, but does not have a leadership role as suggested by the Associated Press.
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