Governor Bill Haslam says he was as surprised as anyone that FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents locked down the headquarters of his family’s company Monday.
“They came in looking for certain records, and that’s all I know,” Haslam told reporters at the state capitol.
The governor remains a primary shareholder in Pilot Flying J, which produces $20 billion in annual revenue. He stepped down as president of the company in 1998 to pursue another business venture and eventually enter politics.
While many political opponents have demanded to know, Haslam has refused to cough up details on his investment or income related to Pilot other than to acknowledge the company has made him rich.
The chain of 600 truckstops has had some turnover at the top. Haslam’s brother Jimmy recently took back the reins of the company after leaving the CEO position in August.
“I have spoken with my brother who said they were going to cooperate fully and he firmly believes they haven’t done anything wrong,” Haslam said. “I have faith and confidence in him.”
Pilot officials have been told it could be “a while” before they know any more about the FBI investigation. Haslam says he plans to focus on being governor.
“Obviously when something like this happens like this there’s a lot of gossip and suspicion about what happened and the truth is, nobody knows. And I don’t either.”
An FBI spokesperson says only that the Pilot records are part of “an ongoing investigation.”
Employees at the Knoxville headquarters were expected to report to work Tuesday. They were told by company officials to “stay focused on your job.”