Steve Gill has resigned as the political editor of the Tennessee Star and as a board member of its parent Star News Digital Media — companies he co-founded — following an arrest and brief incarceration for unpaid child support owed to his ex-wife. In March, Snopes published an investigation into Star News Digital Media, describing it as a company that produces websites that use “the appearance of local newspapers to promote messages paid for or supported by outside or undisclosed interests.”
Among those undisclosed interests, we reported that Gill, in addition to being the political editor of the Tennessee Star at the time, had simultaneously been the CEO of a political media consulting firm paid by candidates about whom the Tennessee Star reported:
Gill Media, Inc., as described on an archived website, “counsels companies, individuals and organizations on development and implementation of marketing, media and grassroots-oriented communications strategies.” Publicly available campaign finance disclosures indicate that Gill Media provided services to several clients during the time he was political editor of the Tennessee Star while they also received coverage on that site. [Star News Digital Media CEO Micheal] Leahy … told us that, “Gill Media, Inc. is a separate entity from Tennessee Star” but that “as a media buyer [Gill Media] has occasionally purchased advertising on the Tennessee Star.”
Gill, a talk radio host and well-known conservative voice in Tennessee politics, was arrested on Aug. 20, 2019, after he missed a deadline to pay $170,000 in child support and other costs to his ex-wife, as reported by the Tennessean:
Conservative commentator and WLAC host Steve Gill has been booked into the Williamson County Jail. In May, Williamson County Judge James Martin ordered the Tennessee Star co-founder to pay $170,000 in child support to his ex-wife, Kathryn B. Gill. At the time, he was given 10 days to pay the money. […] His bond to leave jail is $170,000, the same as the child support amount, according to Williamson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sharon Puckett.
Gill was released on Aug. 29 after deals made with both his ex-wife and his current, estranged wife — who testified against Gill in the child-support case and is seeking a divorce — were approved by Judge James Martin. Gill resigned as political editor of the Tennessee Star as well as from the Star News Digital Media Board of Directors on Aug. 26 while in jail, according to a statement released by Star News Digital Media. “Steve Gill is a good friend, a good man, and a great talent,” Star News Digital Media CEO Michael Patrick Leahy wrote. “We wish him well in his future endeavors.”