Monthly Archives: April 2010

Almost 10 Percent of Legislator Campaign Funds Coming From Candidate Pockets

Here is one more look back at 2008 spending on campaigns for the Tennessee General Assembly, compliments of Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, and his computer. (As the old saying goes, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.)
Prior post on big spenders and those who won while spending less than their opponents is HERE. A post on a separate report dealing with PAC spending in legislative races is just below this post (or HERE.)
An overview 2008 legislative campaign figures:
Total contributions to legislative candidates: $14,644,520
Interest received on candidate accounts: $74,468
Loans made by candidates to their campaigns: $1,360,645

TOTAL RECEIPTS of all campaigns: $16,066,635
Campaign spending total $14,016,795
Repayment of loans from campaign accounts $631,719

Total ending balances $4,065,580
The figures are derrived from the 2008 legislative candidate spending report, found HERE.
It’s noteworthy that close to 10 percent of the money going into campaigns came from the candidates themselves and that they collectively were only able to repay about half the money loaned to their campaigns. (Losers have a difficult time raising money to repay their self-financing; Winners have a lot more success.)
Based on general observation, it seems that self-financing has been on the increase for Tennessee campaigns in recent years, though I don’t have figures from past years to back up that put.
The 2008 report on PAC spending shows that a total of $6,039,523 in PAC money was donated to legislative campaigns, or about 41 percent of total contributions. That $6 million includes the various “leadership PACs” and the PACs affiliated with political parties.
Again without past figures to back up the proposition, it’s my impression that the importance of special interest PACs to individual legislative candidates has been on the decline. The special interest PACs, however, do give a lot of money to the leadership and partisan PACs.
Leadership PACs, in particular, have been on the upswing in recent years – even since 2008. One suspects that donations to important people’s PACs is viewed as good, targeted spending and perhaps more cost-effective than giving to a host of individual legislators.

Top PACs in $6 Million Spent on Legislative Races in 2008

The Registry of Election Finance has made available its 2008 report on political action committee donations to state legislators, which totaled $6,039,523.
Note that the figures are only donations to candidates, not to other PACs or parties. The Registry treats political parties and the partisan caucuses as PACS, too, to their donations are included in the totals. There follows a listing of top contributors in three PAC categories.
Top ten special interest PACs and total of donations to legislative candidates in 2008:
TN Association of Justice (Trial lawyers) $232,750
TN Realtors Association $208,500
TN Medical Association (doctors) $137,750
TN Bankers Association $131,250
Plumbers & Pipefitters Union $126,600
TH Health Care Association (nursing homes) $101,750
TN Education Association (teachers) $97,750
WSWT (wine & liquor wholesalers) $95,800
Federal Express $87,200
TN State Employees Association $76,301

Plus three that came close:
National HealthCorp. $73,850
TN Highway Contractors (Roadbuilders) $70,750
TN Hospital Association $69,050
Ten “leadership” PACs, a/k/a “personal PACs,” which are typically operated by one individual:
Speaker’s Fund (Jimmy Naifeh) $161,500
CAS PAC (Glen Casada) $89,032
RAAMPAC (Ron Ramsey) $77,580
TN K.Y.L.E (Jim Kyle) $79,250
MUMPAC (Jason Mumpower) $70,533
Majority Tennessee (Don Sundquist, others) $68,500
Volunteer PAC (Bill Frist) $52,000
Tennessee’s Tomorrow (Roy Herron) $42,500
MPAC (Mark Norris) $40,500
Odom PAC (Gary Odom) $8,000
Wedge PAC (Marsha Blackburn) $4,750
Top PACs with political party affiliation:
TN Legislative Campaign Committee (state GOP) $469,596
Tennessee Democratic Party $331,214
House Democratic Caucus $123,644
Senate Republican Caucus $120,000
Senate Democratic Caucus $70,546
House Republican Caucus $49,449
TN Republican Caucus $40,000

8th District GOP Candidates Talk About ‘Taking Care of’ Gays

(UPDATE: Reporter Nicholas Beadle has a followup on his blog, including candidate Smith’s statement that he has a gay daughter and apologizes for any offense taken.),
PARIS, Tenn. (AP) — Republican candidates in the 8th Congressional District made candid comments about gays during a recent Tea Party forum that included discussion about the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.
The Jackson Sun reported that physicians Ron Kirkland of Jackson and George Flinn of Memphis were among the candidates Thursday night who talked largely about how they’re against the Obama administration and its policies.
The candidates criticized the administration for wanting to overturn the policy, which prevents gays from serving openly in the military.
Said Kirkland: “I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can’t describe to you.”
Smith added: “I definitely wouldn’t want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like (Kirkland) said.”
The full Jackson Sun story is HERE.

McMillan Now for McWherter

The news release:
Clarksville – Kim McMillan, former state House Majority Leader and one time Democratic candidate for Governor, today endorsed her former primary rival Mike McWherter for Governor.
“Mike McWherter would be an outstanding Governor who will put the needs of Tennessee’s working families first,” said McMillan. “Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know Mike better as we campaigned across the state, and in that time I found that he cares deeply for Tennessee families who struggle to make ends meet, and he understands what needs to be done to get our economy back on track and get Tennesseans back to work.”

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‘Huffy’ Policeman Meets ‘Arrogant’ Mayor

Johnson City Mayor Jane Myron was stopped by Johnson City Police Office Jason Lewis for driving 53 mph in a 30 mph zone, reports the Johnson City Press, and the verbal interlude between the two during the stop does not indicate a friendship was in the making.
The newspaper is seeking a tape recording of their conversation over the ticket. But here’s a sample of what they had to say about it to a reporter:
“She came across as arrogant — as if I was a bother to her,” Lewis said Thursday. “She stated that she may miss a meeting because of the stop. She said she would end up just paying the fine, otherwise it would look bad as mayor.”
And from the mayor: “He asked where I was going, which I thought was none of his business. He said ‘sign the ticket.’ (an electronic, hand-held device which is signed on a glass display, not on paper). The sun was in my eyes, and I had my sunglasses on. I told him I couldn’t see the line.”
A copy of the signature on a paper version of the citation is illegible.
“He said, ‘Get back in the car and see if you can see it,'” she added. “He was a little bit huffy about me not being able to sign it. But if I was speeding, I was speeding. I’ve never thrown the fact that I’m mayor in anyone’s face.”

Ramsey: For It Before He Was Against It (That Hospital Fee that is NOT a Tax)

Rick Locker uses his new blog outlet to provide bloc quotes on Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey talking, first, about the hospital “enhanced coverage assessment” that is not a tax and his inclination to support it – and then why he voted against it. (See earlier post on the Senate vote Thursday HERE.)
Here’s the part about why he was one of five no votes on Thursday:
This was what Ramsey had to say after the Senate vote today:

Reporter: “Did you vote against the hospital fee?”

Ramsey: “I did vote against that.”

Reporter: “I thought you were okay with that. What happened?”

Ramsey: “I just don’t think the timing was right for me to vote on that right now. And I’m not going to criticize others who did because I understand that within their specific districts, that that was a vote they needed to make.”

Reporter: “What do you mean by ‘the timing not being right’?”

Ramsey: (jokingly) “It came up at 11:30 and I wanted to wait ’till 11:35.”

Reporter: “But as speaker you could have probably prevented that bill from coming to the floor, could you not?”

Ramsey: “There’s a possibility.”

Reporter: “Is it a coincidence that two others who voted against it are running for Congress?”

Ramsey: “Ask them.”

Reporter: “Seriously, you’ve talked about how this is an important issue, that the hospitals could find this money to avoid drastic cuts. Is the political price so high to vote for this that it’s not worth doing?”

Ramsey: “The timing wasn’t right for me to do it right now, that’s all I’ll say.”

Wamp Zings Haslam; Ramsey Zings Washington Wamp, Etc.

By Erik Schelzig (with couple of additions after watching on TV)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Bill Haslam’s rivals for the Republican gubernatorial nomination are taking aim at the Knoxville mayor’s conservative credentials.
At a gubernatorial forum hosted by Middle Tennessee State University on Thursday evening, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga took Haslam to task for raising property taxes after first being elected mayor.
“Mayor Haslam, conservatives don’t raise taxes before cutting spending,” Wamp said.
Haslam, the runaway fundraising leader of the campaign so far, did not directly address the attacks during the forum. (At one point, he did remark that “I think labels are dangerous.”)
But afterward he told The Associated Press that he could also question Wamp’s vote for the $700 billion bailout program in Congress or Ramsey’s 2002 vote to increase the state sales and other taxes.
“The difference is this: I’m the only person that’s had to pass and implement a budget,” Haslam said of his role as Knoxville mayor.

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Lawsuit Against Bredesen, AG Asks Gun Rights for Pardoned Felon

NASHVILLE, (AP) — A registered nurse, who was pardoned of a felony drug conviction, has filed a lawsuit against Tennessee’s governor and attorney general in an effort to win back his gun rights.
The suit filed Thursday against Gov. Phil Bredesen and Attorney General Bob Cooper says the state of Tennessee is ignoring the Second Amendment rights of anyone whose given a pardon that also restores gun rights. It is asking a judge to stop the state from denying the gun rights of people given these special types of pardons.
David Scott Blackwell was sentenced to five years in prison in 1989 after being convicted of selling cocaine in Gwinnett County, Ga.
He was pardoned by the state of Georgia after turning his life around and going to nursing school, Blackwell’s attorney said.
“The problem is he can’t have a gun in the house to protect his family,” the lawyer David Raybin said. “He can’t go hunting with his son.”

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‘English in Workplace’ Bill Clears Senate

From AP:
Employers could make it a requirement for their workers to be able to speak English under a bill passed by the Tennessee Senate.
The chamber voted 28-2 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin (SB2753) on Thursday.
Sponsors say the legislation would protect businesses from potential lawsuits for refusing to hire people based on their lack of English skills.
Johnson said the language requirement would have to be based on “legitimate business necessity,” and would not prevent workers from making personal calls or hold conversations in other languages.
The companion bill passed the House 80-14 last month, but differences would still have to be worked out before the measure can head for the governor’s consideration.

Bill to Block Voter Purging for Form Deficiencies Goes to Gov

The House and Senate both approved Thursday legislation declaring that, once a voter’s registration has been accepted by county election officials, he or she cannot be purged from voter roles for a deficiencies on a registration form.
The bill (HB3456) was inspired by the Benton County election administrator questioning the registration of about 2,100 voters – about one of five in the rural West Tennessee county – because of failure to check appropriate boxes. In some cases, the voter had been registered and voting for decades without checking ‘yes’ beside a question asking if the voter is a citizen of the United States. (Earlier story HERE.)
The bill passed the House 93-1 under sponsorship of House Democratic Leader Gary Odom of Nashville and won 32-0 approval in the Senate with Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney as sponsor. It now goes to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature.
“This bill says that no one in this state can question your right to vote unless you die, move, change your name or commit a felony,” said Odom. “When you receive your voter card, no one can take it away.”
(Followup: See also Josh Thomas’ report.)
Press releases from the Secretary of State’s office and Odom on the matter are below.

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