ABOVE: Gov.-elect Bill Lee, second from left, works with employees at The Lee Company in this photo from his campaign Web site.
Governor-elect Bill Lee’s stock in his family company entered a blind trust, effective Wednesday, according to an announcement from his transition team.
Lee resigned as chairman of the Lee Company last month after his November election as governor and more than 35 years with the mechanical contracting and facilities and home services company founded by his grandfather. Some of Lee’s critics had questioned the appropriateness of Lee’s involvement with a company that held millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts, including with the state.
The Lee Company will no longer pursue state contracts, according to the announcement, but it continues to hold major government contracts, including with Davidson and Williamson counties. Additionally, the announcement said, Lee “will no longer have communication with the company regarding contracts and other business decisions.”
Though the announcement said the company will continue to “fulfill obligations to state contracts,” a Department of General Services spokesperson told The Tennessean last month that the company requested the cancellation of its last state contract on Aug. 31.
“As I said I would do on the campaign trail, I have officially stepped away from my company and placed all of my company holdings into a blind trust to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest,” Lee said in the release. “I look forward to this new chapter of public service and I leave knowing that Lee Company is in good hands with CEO Richard Perko and the Board of Directors.”
Despite later statements that he would step away from the company, Lee said early on in the campaign that he would only give up Lee Company’s state business if legally required to do so.
“Will we be required to?” he asked college Republicans in Chattanooga in 2017, as recorded in a video posted to Facebook. “I don’t know. If we’re not required to, we won’t. But if we’re required to, we would.”
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis attorney Bo Campbell will oversee the blind trust, Nashville Business Journal reported.