By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Among those no longer receiving Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s daily news roundup are 74 lawmakers, five dead people, former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen – and Bredesen’s mother.
Haslam’s staff cut distribution of the widely read “Daily News Clips” email from more than 1,200 to 183. A spokesman has said the change makes the email list more manageable and hasn’t saved any money.
Documents turned over to The Associated Press after a public records request show that among the lawmakers dropped are 42 Republicans, 32 Democrats and one independent. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey remains on the list, but fellow Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell does not.
“We talked to legislative leadership before the change and asked them to identify who should receive the clips to get them distributed to the larger body, so our list reflects the staff that was identified,” Haslam spokesman David Smith said in an email.
The administration released the names and email addresses on the past and current lists but redacted the email addresses for Haslam and his wife, Crissy. Smith said the administration’s legal staff decided that the addresses didn’t need to be disclosed because “this is part of a deliberative process – advising the Governor on notable news stories, topics, etc.”
Smith said the roundup is sent to the Haslams’ state email addresses.
The popularity of the roundup of state political news and commentary was apparent last week as lawmakers, lobbyists and others who lost it scrambled to find a new source, tapping longtime relationships to arrange for a copy to be forwarded.
The administration isn’t upset that legislative staffers and others have begun to share the document through email or on social media like Twitter and Facebook.
“If you had told me a week ago that the Senate Democratic Caucus would post Bill Haslam’s news on their website every day going forward, I would’ve been excited,” Smith said.
There are no plans in the works to post the document on a government website, he said.
Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville wrote on his blog that he was taken aback by being removed from the email list.
“Being a sitting senator I would think I would get a little bit of a pass,” Campfield wrote. “Even the past administration (Who I regularly took swings at) never took me off the list.
“Why would you want a state legislator left in the dark on state issues?”
Democratic Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington, the former longtime House speaker, said he eagerly awaited the emailed clips for news around the state that used to arrive in his inbox around 6:30 a.m. Now he gets the roundup forwarded to him by around 9:30 a.m., he said.
“It has absolutely no logical reason for them to have done it,” Naifeh said about the changes.
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney had been added to the list after Haslam’s inauguration in January, only to be removed last week. But he said his office compiles its own news clippings, and that he can get the governor’s version elsewhere.
“We were never on Bredesen’s list, and we never complained about it,” he said. “This was just an administrative function.”
Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David Lillard and Comptroller Justin Wilson, all Republicans, are on the list. But Attorney General Bob Cooper, a former Bredesen aide, was left off.
Smith said Cooper was removed “inadvertently,” but that his spokeswoman has agreed to distribute the email within the office.
The hundreds cut from the list include lobbyists, political operatives and numerous former Bredesen staffers, including Dave Cooley and Stuart Brunson, who served as deputy to the governor, former commissioners Reagan Farr and Matt Kisber and former state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Button.
Bredesen’s personal e-mail address was removed, along those of his mother, longtime associated Byron Trauger and former spokeswoman Lydia Lenker. Efforts to reach Bredesen for comment were unsuccessful.
Others no longer receiving the roundup include:
– Rebecca Hargrove, president and CEO of the Tennessee lottery.
– Tom Griscom, former editor and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Haslam’s early chief communications adviser.
– Bishop Joseph Walker III, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville.
– Rich Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
– Ward Cammack, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
– Jim White, executive director of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee.
– Col. Tracy Trott, commander of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Not everyone was upset for being cut. Former Sen. Ben Atchley said he had received the daily news roundup since retiring from the Legislature in 2004.
The Knoxville Republican called it a “good way to keep up with statewide news,” but had unsuccessfully tried to unsubscribe in recent years.
“I don’t have a need for it now,” said Atchley, 81. “Most of the time I don’t even read it.”