Haslam to Obama: Surprise placement of immigrant children in TN ‘unacceptable’

In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Bill Haslam is protesting as “unacceptable” the placement of 760 illegal immigrant children within Tennessee without notifying state officials.

Haslam said the he and other governors had discussed with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell the issue of “unaccompanied immigrant children” on July 13 at a meeting of the National Governors Association in Nashville and emphasized the need for states to be informed of any placement of children within their borders.

“It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration’s knowledge,” Haslam wrote. “Not only was our state not informed prior to any of the children being brought here, I still have not been contacted and have no information about these individuals or their sponsors other than what was posted on the HHS website and subsequently reported by media. (Note: Previous post HERE.)

“Although solving the border crisis is a federal responsibility, this influx of immigrant children could have a significant impact on state and local governments,” he said, adding a list of questions the federal government should answer to provide details on the children.
“Tennessee is a diverse and welcoming state, and we also understand that this is a complicated issue. However, an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children to the state, with little information being made available to the public or to state leaders, creates confusion and could be very problematic,” Haslam said. “The start of school is approaching for many districts across the state, and the federal government’s actions have caused great uncertainty around this issue.”

: Text of the letter is below.
Continue reading

Adams’ first TV ad: Three millionaires, only one veteran running for U.S. Senate

News release from Terry Adams campaign
MEMPHIS – U.S. Senate Candidate Terry Adams released his first television ad “Two Fights” this week. The ad focuses on fighting for veterans and against the Tea Party’s radical agenda in Washington.

“Lamar Alexander has continuously failed to stand up for veterans, he voted against the Veterans Bill earlier this year. Veterans are not a media props or an election year issue. We owe a debt to veterans that must be paid, I am the only veteran is this Democratic primary and I know the men and women who served deserve better,” Adams said.

“The Tea Party’s radical agenda is a threat to the American way of life. This country will not turn back the clock on our seniors to a time before Social Security and Medicare. We will never again allow the most vulnerable among us to suffer the pain and indignity of abject poverty in their elder years”.

Adams is on a 100 Whistle-Stop Tour of Tennessee during early voting visiting polling stations, homes, and events with voters and supporters across the state.

Note: Adams, in an email, says the ad is initially running in the Nashville TV market, “with plans to expand to statewide to Memphis, Chattanooga, & Knoxville.”

Tennessee Forum: Supremes gave polticial donations to Democrats

News release from Tennessee Forum:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Forum President Susan Kaestner congratulated Democrat Supreme Court Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade on their endorsement by the Davidson County Democrat Party today. In an email to Democrat party activists and supporters, Gary D. Bynum, Chairman of the Davidson County Democrat Party, said, “Remember when Democrats don’t vote, Republicans are elected and we ALWAYS support the Democratic ticket…Vote to “RETAIN” the current Supreme Court on August 7.” A copy of the email can be viewed HERE.

“I congratulate Justices Clark, Lee and Wade on earning the support of their base – the liberal left of the Democrat Party,” Kaestner said. “It should not be surprising that Democrats would endorse the judges given that they are, in fact, Democrats. Chairman Bynum makes clear that Clark, Lee and Wade are key components of the ‘Democrat ticket’ for voters to consider this August.”

“Partisanship is nothing new for Clark, Lee and Wade,” Kaestner said. “They earned the respect of their friends in the Democrat party by being ultra-partisan activists and donors throughout their judicial career, despite claims to the contrary.”

A review of campaign finance records by the Tennessee Forum reveals a strong pattern of partisan behavior by all three Supreme Court judges up for retention this August. The political contribution histories of Judges Clark, Wade and Lee directly contradict the public mythology perpetrated by the judges and their Democrat operatives that they are “nonpartisan.”

“The judges’ political contributions put in perspective the level of deception they are peddling to the people of Tennessee,” said Kaestner. “The judges can masquerade as apolitical, but the facts are the facts. Normal Tennessee citizens go to work, raise families and go to the polls on election day. They do not consistently and generously give large amounts of money to Democrat candidates. There is a term for people who do that: Partisan Democrat.”

Records show that Clark has given a total of $5,435 to political candidates over the years. 80% of those donations have gone to Democrats, including former Democratic Senate Speaker John Wilder, former Senate Democrat Caucus Chairman Joe Haynes and former state Representative Rob Briley. The candidate receiving the largest total contributions from Clark was former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Clark to the Supreme Court in 2005.

Clark’s partisan roots transcend her donation record as well. She was elected to the Tennessee Democrat Party Executive Committee, the most partisan and highest ranking political organization one can be a part of at the state level. As a member of the state Democrat Executive Committee, Clark helped set policy, elect the party’s chairman, and worked to elect Democrat candidates across the state.

Wade, the largest political contributor of the three judges, has donated over 70% of his money to Democrat candidates. Wade’s political contributions total at least $27,311 and include former Vice President Al Gore, Harold Ford, Jr., current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and the Democratic National Committee. Wade also gave at least $3,000 to former Democrat Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen appointed Wade to the Supreme Court in 2006.

Publicly available campaign finance records indicate Lee is the most partisan of the three. She gave over $8,000, 92% of which went to Democrats. Recipients of Lee’s political generosity include Harold Ford, Jr., 2010 Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter, current Democrat Party chair Roy Herron and ActBlue. Lee joined her two colleagues in supporting the Democrat Governor who appointed them. She gave Bredesen’s campaign over $3,000. She was later appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008 — by Phil Bredesen.

“These records are public and searchable by anyone with an internet connection. The judges don’t want voters to know their entire campaign is predicated on deception,” said Kaestner. “These judges are candidates for the highest court in the state and they are denying basic truths about their political history.”

“Ironically, their campaign is an argument for replacement. If you truly want nonpartisan judges on the Supreme Court of Tennessee your only choice is to vote ‘replace’ on Judges Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Gary Wade.”

The general public can search databases of state and federal political contributions free of charge at http://www.fec.gov and http://www.tn.gov/tref.

Lamar will have a ‘Little Plaid Blog’ for his bus tour

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign
NASHVILLE – Lamar Alexander today announced the launch of his “Little Plaid Blog” where he will chronicle his 35-stop bus tour across Tennessee. He released the following statement:

“When I walked across Tennessee in my campaign for governor, I met Tennesseans who I still know and who still help me provide Washington with a steady supply of common sense. On my two-week, 35-stop bus tour I will continue my travels across the state, seeing old friends and making new ones – and I’d like to share this time with you.

“Starting today, I welcome you to Lamar Alexander’s Little Plaid Blog, where I’ll record the people, events and doses of Tennessee common sense that I come across on my bus tour. I’ll share photos, videos, news from the road and thoughts on what Tennessee has to teach Washington about how to follow conservative principles and solve our country’s biggest challenges.”

Go to www.lamaralexander.com to follow the “Little Plaid Blog.”

The tour builds on the rest of the efforts by Alexander’s campaign for re-election, which include a TV ad showing Alexander sparring with President Obama over Obamacare; a TV ad about Alexander fighting against the Obama administration acting like a de facto national school board; endorsement ads by former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson and former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and a series of radio ads featuring community leaders across Tennessee.

Note: Alexander was the author of “Little Plaid Book,” published in 1998, a collection of advice, commentary and sayings on running for political office. Critics have pointed out that some of the Little Plaid Book entries are not likely to be recycled for the ‘Little Plaid Blog’ during his campaign tour seeking a third term in the Senate. An example once pointed out on state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s blog: “297. Serve two terms and get out”

More national attention to TN Supremes retention election

Excerpt from a New York Times blog post:

Three capable members of Tennessee’s 5-member Supreme Court — Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee — are campaigning to keep their seats in up-or-down retention elections. Distorting attack ads portray the three as soft on crime and the death penalty (citing a case involving ineffective assistance of counsel) and as supporters of “the Obama agenda” and “Obamacare” (even though they have never ruled on a case involving the health care law).

There is such a thing as reasoned discussion of candidates’ judicial records and philosophy. Plainly, 30- second cheap shots don’t rise to that level.

Tennessee’s three targeted judges were appointed by the state’s former Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen; and the defeat of even one would permit Tennessee’s current Republican governor, Bill Haslam, to name a replacement, creating a Republican majority on the powerful court. These stakes explain the intense assault unleashed against the trio, led by Tennessee’s Republican lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, and aided and abetted, it appears, by well-heeled conservative groups.

It’s clear from the startling 2010 defeat of three Iowa Supreme Court justices — who’d participated in the unanimous decision to allow same-sex marriage — that judges under attack can’t expect to prevail without fighting back. And that’s exactly what the three targeted judges are doing, raising significant sums and otherwise relying on support from lawyers who appear before them.

But no one should feel good about judges having to grovel for money and campaign like ordinary politicians. In their effort to counter the charge they are too liberal for the red state, moreover, the three targeted judges have engaged in some injudicious politicking themselves, stressing that they’ve upheld nearly 90 percent of death sentences, for example. For judges to campaign based on their decisions in criminal cases is a dicey business even when provoked.

Rick Santorum endorses Weston Wamp for Congress

Conservative former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum today announced his endorsement of Weston Wamp in his race for the Republican nomination for Congress from Tennessee’s Third District, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

“Weston is exactly the kind of person we desperately need in Washington right now,” the former senator and presidential candidate said in a statement endorsing Wamp, who is challenging incumbent Chuck Fleischmann for the Republican nomination on Aug. 7.

Wamp’s campaign was enthusiastic about receiving the endorsement from Santorum, who came in second in the 2012 Republican Presidential primary, outpacing the eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney in all 11 counties of the district.

In House District 55, Odom under attack from what he calls ‘lies’

In House District 55, Rep. Gary Odom, a veteran of 28 years in the state House, is under primary attack from attorney John Ray Clemmons. Andrea Zelinski has a report on the race, including comments from Odom – who has cancelled on some other interviews with media lately – after encountering him in a Legislative Plaza hallway.

Days later, Odom skipped the Tennessean’s editorial board meeting that would have put him face-to-face with Clemmons. His challenger then beat up on the MIA Odom, calling him a lobbyist and someone with Tea Party ties, much like he has said to the Scene and in four campaign mailers.

Odom put out his own four-page hit-piece this week in response, calling Clemmons a liar. “If John Ray Clemmons will lie to you as a candidate…. Just think what he would do as a legislator,” read the mail piece.

“The fact is he has nothing he can talk about that he’s done. He’s been an unsuccessful political operative,” Odom told Pith about Clemmons when stopped in the hall. “It’s just lies, and that’s what I’m calling them. Everything they’re doing is a lie. I’ve never been endorsed by the Tea Party.”

Here’s a look at the three major issues Clemmons is raising against Odom so far this race:

- “Gary Odom: Legislator or Lobbyist?” Odom is executive director of the state’s optometric association, a group that lobbies the legislature. But he is not a registered lobbyist. …Clemmons uses the imagery of Odom as a lobbyist to accuse him of using his position to give money to Tea Party lawmakers. The organization does make political donations to politicians, but those dollars are generally spread to lawmakers sitting on the Health Committee, regardless of party.

- Odom is “backed by Tea Party allies hurting Nashville’s progress.” Odom has campaign help this year from Rick Williams, who largely serves as the linchpin to this attack. Williams, a self-described conservative Democrat, is a key player in the Stop Amp anti-bus rapid transit crusade which bubbled up to the state level this year. The effort attracted the money of GOP fundraiser Lee Beaman and the interest of Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the conservative-minded billionaire Koch brothers. Williams, who is paid by Odom’s campaign but serves as chair of the Stop Amp coalition, asked the group’s supporters to donate and post yard signs for Odom.

…While legislators or others officially representing the Tea Party are no where near Odom’s race, his association with Williams and the Stop Amp crowd serves to link him to conservative Republicans with their own Tea Party ties.

- Odom “funneled money to Tea Party and Republican legislators who have meddled in local education decisions and hurt our public schools.” One mailer by Clemmons alludes to Metro Nashville Public School’s ugly fight with the state over MNPS’ decision to deny an application for Great Hearts Academy charter school. At the time, Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman were unhappy about the local decision and fined Metro Schools $3.4 million. The mailer implies Odom funneled money to Tea Party and Republican legislators who were responsible for this move, although it was one rooted heavily in the governor’s administration — not the legislature — which finds itself at odds with the legislature’s Tea Party contingent.

Gordon Ball TV ad focuses on support for minimum wage

News release from the Gordon Ball campaign
Wednesday, the Gordon Ball for US Senate Campaign launched its second statewide commercial called “Working for Tennessee.” The commercial will air daily in media markets throughout Tennessee. Ball supports raising the minimum wage because no one working full-time should be living in poverty.

“The problem with Lamar Alexander is the only job he is fighting for is his own. He’s so busy trying to win the conservative of the year award that he stopped fighting to keep Tennessee hospitals open, and he’s no longer working or fighting to make sure companies and jobs stay in Tennessee. We need leadership concerned with the next generation, not the next election.”

On the Supremes’ claim to be supporters of 2nd Amendment rights

A spokeswoman for the campaign of three Supreme Court justices has cited the case of David Scott Blackwell as backing up the contention, made in TV advertising, that the court has supported 2nd Amendment rights, reports WTVF TV.

Blackwell sued for his right to own a gun after he received a pardon for a drug crime he had committed when he was 20. (Note: His conviction came in Georgia, where his record had been cleared and his right to own a gun restored. He had moved to Tennessee, where he was told the felony conviction meant no handgun carry permit.)

The Court of Appeals ruled in Blackwell’s favor and, given a chance to take the case, the Supreme Court declined.

“By them denying the appeal on two occasions, they functionally upheld the Second Amendment right. My client has a firearm — that’s the bottom line,” said Blackwell’s attorney, David Raybin.

…(L)awyer John Harris (who heads the Tennessee Firearms Association)… said the Supreme Court accepts so few cases for review that, in his opinion, it’s not always clear what conclusions to draw.

TN has received 760 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee has received about 2.5 percent of the unaccompanied children crossing into the United States.

New federal data published Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families showed Tennessee received 760 of the more than 30,000 children who have been released to sponsors this year through July 7.

Texas, New York, Florida and California received the most, accounting for 46 percent of the children received during that time.

Unaccompanied children have been fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the U.S. because they believe they will be allowed to stay.

Children are placed in government shelters and then released to sponsors while they go through deportation proceedings. In many cases, the sponsors are the children’s parents, other relatives or a family friend.