Tennessee Senate candidate responds to questions about state farm funding

SOMERVILLE, TN (WMC-TV) - A Tennessee state senate candidate is under scrutiny after being questioned about state dollars her husband's farm received.

Somerville State Representative Dolores Gresham sits on the House Agriculture Committee and voted in favor of the agriculture enhancement grant program.  Despite that, she said the thousands of dollars her farm has received is no different from that of any other farmer across the state.

But some state democrats say the Gresham's herd of cattle has received special treatment from the State of Tennessee.

"The use of taxpayer funds by Representative Gresham like this really creates a hard taste in everyone's mouth," said Fayette County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Butler.

According to the State Department of Agriculture, the farm belonging to Gresham, and her husband Will has received over $26,000 in cost-share funding as part of a state agriculture enhancement grant.

Gresham said the money is been used like it should be - to improve the farm's infrastructure.

"Gresham Farms met the criteria for approval and were found in a recent audit to be in full compliance," she said.

However, state democrats believe there's a conflict of interest because Gresham also sits on the agriculture committee.

They believe Gresham should return the money back to the state.

"She's running for the Senate now, so I think it raises questions regarding her integrity," Butler said.

But Gresham disagrees. "8,000 farmers that I am aware of have applied and are participating in this program - are we asking any of those to return the money?"

Despite what some are saying, Gresham says she's done everything by the book.

The state department of agriculture also said Gresham's state senate opponent, Randy Camp, has received $7,000 from the same agricultural grant.  But he was not serving in the legislature when he applied.

Click here to e-mail Justin Hanson.