Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam doesn't know, not seeking details of Pilot Flying J raid

Says brother Jimmy Haslam can handle it

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said he knows little about a raid on Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville and has "faith and confidence" in his brother's ability to deal with the situation as CEO of the company.

In a brief meeting with reporters, the governor said there was "gossip and speculation" about the raid that is unfounded and unfair and "it's not fair for me to play that game."

"The truth is, I don't know," said Haslam.

He was asked, for example, about speculation that the raid could have been retaliation for his recent decision against expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, and he rejected the notion.

"Absolutely not," he said.

When he became governor in January 2011, Haslam put all his financial assets in a blind trust — except for his Pilot holdings. The governor said he has no role in managing the company, though he retains a substantial but undisclosed financial interest.

Haslam said he is leaving management to his brother, CEO Jimmy Haslam , and added, "I have faith and confidence in him." In fact, the governor said he is not trying to learn any details of what happened and why.

"It's not my job," he said. "I've got a full-time job."

On Monday, dozens of FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided the West Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J, operator of the largest travel center network in North America, while executing a search warrant.

FBI supervisory special agent Marshall Stone said federal agents arrived at the corporate headquarters on Lonas Road as part of a "ongoing investigation."

Stone declined to provide specifics of the raid.

"The FBI secured our headquarters today and informed us they are investigating Pilot Flying J," Jimmy Haslam said in an email statement Monday afternoon.

"We will cooperate appropriately with any and all external investigations and conduct our own. I believe and trust there has been no wrongdoing. The integrity of our company always has been job No. 1."

Knoxville-based Pilot is owner of more than 600 travel center locations across the U.S. and has more than 30,000 employees. It recorded revenues of $29.3 billion in 2011.

The company was founded more than 50 years ago by Jim Haslam and is run by his eldest son, Jimmy, who bought a majority ownership of the Cleveland Browns of the NFL last year.

Jimmy Haslam stepped down as CEO after buying the Browns but resumed his role as CEO less than six months later, replacing former PepsiCo President John Compton.

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