The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has hired the girlfriend of Gov. Don Sundquist
's son Deke
as director of marketing.
began work in February at a salary of $42,800, said Tourism Commissioner John Wade
. She replaced Ellen Thornton
Williams had been working for state government with the film and tape commission, Wade said.
Asked if he had hired Williams because of her connections to the governor, Wade said, "Of course."
He said, "This is a political environment and I always try to accomodate the wishes of personnel and staff."
He said the marketing director's position already existed and that Williams "is going to be an asset."
Tourism has come in for some cuts as Sundquist tries to balance the state budget. The governor closed 14 state parks completely or partially and cut $1 million from the Tourist Development budget last year.
Sundquist is in his final year as governor, having served almost two terms.