Monthly Archives: August 2012

On Joe Carr & Rape Remarks

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, has denied telling a reporter that he agreed with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that victims of “legitimate rape” seldom carry pregnancies to term, according to The Tennessean, but he stood by his position that the Akin should not be pressured to leave the Missouri Senate race.
The Memphis Flyer reported this morning that Carr told its correspondent to the Republican National Convention that he believes pregnancies terminate automatically after a rape, a medical fiction sometimes advanced by opponents of abortion. The remark — which the Flyer summarized and did not quote directly — came after a lunchtime speech by GOP strategist Frank Luntz in which Luntz asked members of the Tennessee delegation to demonstrate by show of hands whether they agree Akin should step aside.
(The Flyer text in dispute: All except for three naysayers– one of whom, State Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, had previously made a $3,000 bid that won a brief auction held by Luntz for a large portrait of Thomas Jefferson. Looking straight at Carr, Luntz said, “I don’t know what you’re saying, but you can still have the painting.”
Carr would explain later on that he agreed with Akin that women did indeed possess certain biological means to close themselves off against pregnancy in cases of violent rape. He further thought that Republicans had no business telling a bona fide Republican primary winner what to do.
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Carr was one of only a few delegates, alternates and guests who raised their hands to indicate a belief that Akin should stay in. His reported remarks were condemned by Democrats Tuesday afternoon.
“Rep. Joe Carr has shown today what many of the women in the General Assembly have known for a long time — he is completely and totally unfit for office,” state Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, said in a press release. “Claiming that women’s bodies possess the ability to ‘close themselves off’ from pregnancy in cases of violent rape is not only biologically inaccurate, it is offensive to each and every Tennessee woman who has ever been the victim of rape.”
But as reaction spread, Carr distanced himself from the story.
Carr would confirm that he does not think Akin should be forced to drop out, but he said that view does not constitute proof that he agrees with Akin on the subject of rape.
“That’s not what he (Luntz) asked,” Carr said. “I don’t have an informed opinion on it (Akin’s views). I really don’t. … I just think they should find out what he meant first.”

UPDATE: Jackson Baker’s followup on Carr is HERE.

Former AG Summers to Lead Investigation in 10th Judicial District

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — A former Tennessee attorney general will lead an investigation into the office of the 10th Judicial District state prosecutor.
The Cleveland Daily Banner reported Paul Summers was appointed to look into the office of District Attorney General Steve Bebb.
District Attorney Conference Executive Director Wally Kirby told the Banner on Tuesday that Summers’ reputation is beyond reproach.
Bebb said he asked for an investigation into everyone in the office, including himself.
The Office of the State Comptroller will assist in the investigation as will the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
An investigation by the Chattanooga Times Free Press concluded that important cases in the 10th Judicial District were botched through ineptness or misconduct, that taxpayer money was misused and that the office played favorites during criminal prosecutions.

Fed Inspectors, Walking Horse Groups Clash

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee walking horse groups continue to clash with U.S. Agriculture Department inspectors this week as the industry’s premier event takes place in Shelbyville.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/QOjuzf) that frequently during the Celebration, USDA inspectors have issued citations where independent inspectors and an independent veterinarian found no signs of soring. Soring is the illegal practice of causing injuries to a horse’s legs or hooves to exaggerate the high-stepping gait that wins prizes.
On Monday night, USDA inspectors cited Winky Groover, a trainer who recently appeared in newspaper and television reports explaining what’s being done to clean up walking horse shows.
Groover disputed the UDSA’s finding that I’m Jiminy Cricket had been sored.
“(I’m Jiminy Cricket) was perfectly sound,” Groover said. “When the inspector turned him down, I took him to the veterinarian, and he was perfectly sound.”

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Judge: TN ‘Birther’ Lawsuit Frivilous, Filer Must Pay Attorney Fees

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
U.S. District Court Judge S. Thomas Anderson, who dismissed in June a “birther” lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s place on the ballot in Tennessee, sanctioned Friday the plaintiffs’ attorney, Van Irion, for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.
In the suit, the Liberty Legal Foundation, a right-wing group led by Irion, a failed tea party congressional candidate, alleged that Barack Obama was ineligible to be president because he was not a “natural-born citizen.”
The judge wrote in his sanction of the Liberty Legal Foundation that the group had no legal standing to bring the suit, calling the claims “frivolous and without any arguable basis in law.”
“As such, counsel for Plaintiff has multiplied the proceedings in this case unreasonably and vexatiously and should therefore be required to satisfy personally the attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred by Defendants because of such conduct,” Judge Anderson wrote.
Gerard Stranch, an attorney for the Tennessee Democratic Party, a defendant in the suit, said defendants have 21 days to file an application for attorney’s fees and costs to be expended due to having the case dismissed.
“We are happy with the result and hope this brings an end to the ongoing litigation over President Obama’s qualifications,” Stranch said.
The Democratic Party, the DNC, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Tennessee Democratic Party and TNDP Chairman Chip Forrester were named in defendants in the suit filed by the Liberty Legal Foundation, John Dummett, Leonard Volodarsky and Creg Maroney.

Note: Text of the judge’s order is available by clicking this link: Sanctions_Order_in_LLF.pdf

Shelby Commission Overrides Mayor to Set Up Sales Tax Vote

Voters in Memphis, Millington and unincorporated Shelby County will decide in November if there should be a half-cent countywide sales tax increase to help fund the county’s public schools, reports The Commercial Appeal
On Monday the Shelby County Commission overrode Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s veto of a sales-tax referendum, with an eight-vote majority.
The deciding vote was cast by Commissioner Melvin Burgess, an employee of Memphis City Schools, who received an opinion from the county attorney’s office that it was not necessary to recuse himself from voting.
“We all want a world-class education system and you have to pay,” Burgess said in support of his vote. “I believe it is our duty to put that question to the people,” he said of the referendum.
Commissioners previously had approved the referendum by seven votes at a meeting Burgess didn’t attend. Eight votes are required on the 13-member commission to override a mayoral veto.
Luttrell has insisted for weeks that a countywide sales-tax increase to fund schools was premature. The override vote was no “great surprise,” he said.
“Now it goes to the voters and the voters will make the ultimate decision,” Luttrell said.

Conservative Casada On Board With Harwell Team

Rep. Glen Casada talks with Andrea Zelinski about his anticipated return to the role of House Republican Caucus Chairman, succeeding the defeated Debra Maggart.
Casada is generally regarded as more in tune with House conservatives than Speaker Beth Harwell, who edged out Casada to win the gavel two years ago. Harwell typically works hand-in-glove with Gov. Bill Haslam, both of whom are centrists who’ve been criticized at times by party conservatives for being more attentive to big business interests than grassroots concerns.
However, Casada is himself loathe to criticize Harwell. The chief reason he’s uninterested in trying to make a grab at the speaker’s gavel again this year is that “Beth has done a good job,” he said.
“Things are well. We’re cutting taxes. Government’s small. Things are going well in the state of Tennessee so I see no reason to switch at this stage,” Casada said.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, on the other hand, isn’t so happy with the status quo. The conservative Tullahoma Republican is mulling a run for speaker. Matheney told The Associated Press earlier this month that as a result of his conservative politics he feels he’s “purposefully been put in a box” by the caucus higher-ups.
For his part, Casada says House leadership has never made him feel like that. He said he feels he would “add to, not conflict with, the leadership team” of Harwell and GOP Leader Gerald McCormick, who say
s he expects Casada would fit naturally back into a leadership role, if he pursues the seat.

Tennesseans at GOP Convention, Day 2

Haslam: From Fla. to N.C. for Romney
Gov. Bill Haslam travels to Tampa today but says he’ll soon be on the road again to North Carolina where he’ll resume his role as a Romney surrogate.reports WPLN.
The first-term governor says the choice is between four more years of the federal government telling people what to do and a government that – in his words – “takes advantage…of the free enterprise system.”
“I think the President has done a nice job on some things. I don’t think he has a real appreciation for what makes the economy grow, and I think the numbers reflect that.”
While a longtime Romney backer, Governor Haslam does not have a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
Corker: Romney’s Like Reagan
The presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the most important race the country has seen since the 1980 matchup between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Monday.
More from Michael Collins:
The Chattanooga Republican said he attended an event with Romney a couple of months ago in Park City, Utah, where Romney gave a speech that sounded “incredibly Reaganesque.”
“I left there about as excited as I could possibly have been at that moment,” Corker told Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention. “I think when people get to see who he is, it’s going to make a tremendous difference in this race.”
Corker, one of the guest speakers at a breakfast meeting for the state’s delegates, framed the race between Obama and Romney as a choice between “individualism and really allowing people real opportunity” versus “collectivism and trying to have equal outcomes.”
…Corker offered high praise for Romney’s vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the influential chairman of the House Budget Committee. Corker said he has spent a lot of time with Ryan on budget issues and has gotten to know him really well.
Hagerty: A Candidate Himself Someday?
State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, a longtime friend of Mitt Romney, is interviewed by Chas Sisk.
“I think it’s going to be a real rush, to see someone that you’ve worked so hard for get to this next level,” Hagerty…said of Mitt Romney, the man he has supported for president for more than half a decade. “It’s also going to be a real grounding sense of responsibility there, because we’ve got the race of a lifetime.”
Hagerty first met Romney when the two were young consultants based in Boston, part of a cadre of bright minds recruited from prestigious law and business schools in the 1970s and 1980s to remake blue-chip companies. He was part of a group who urged Romney to get into presidential politics six years ago, and he was a key member of the fundraising team for Romney’s first bid for the White House in 2008.
Hagerty and his wife, Chrissy, have been selected as delegates to the Republican National Convention, an honor that will let them both cast ballots to nominate their friend for president.
The campaign could be a precursor to one of Hagerty’s own. The former political aide and financial executive has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Congress or the governor’s office after Gov. Bill Haslam’s tenure has run its course in 2014 or 2018.
…Hagerty said he came to know Bill Haslam in 2008, as the then Knoxville mayor was launching a run for governor. Just as Romney did in his runs for president, Haslam committed two years to his gubernatorial campaign.
“Whether it’s a person running for a county- or city-level position or a statewide position or national position, I feel certain that people that do it and do it well are putting 120 percent of their available time into the run,” he said. “Anybody that cares as much as a candidate that wins probably does; you’re putting your all into it.”
It is that depth of commitment needed that gives Hagerty pause about running for office himself. While he said he enjoys serving in government, Hagerty doubted that most people understand how much work it takes to win an election.
“You go through really a gauntlet of stresses and pressures,” he said. “I think until you’re near a person that does that, one doesn’t appreciate how challenging it is.

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Probe Asked of Democrats Getting Republican Primary Ballots

By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A public interest group in Nashville is calling for an investigation into the Aug. 2 Davidson County primary after several prominent Democrats were given Republican ballots.
Tennessee Citizen Action Director Mary Mancini provided reporters on Monday with copies of an Aug. 9 letter from Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall to Davidson County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche.
“I have always been asked which primary I choose to vote in and this time I wasn’t provided that opportunity,” he wrote. “Additionally, I understand from you that the system was set to default to Republican if no one asked or the workers did not change it to vote in the Democratic primary.”
State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said in an interview that the problem was not exactly a default ballot, but that the choice of a Republican ballot was highlighted on the computer screen poll workers used. Some poll workers must have pressed the highlighted selection without thinking, he said.

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UT Athletic Department Posts $4M Deficit

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s athletic department posted a $3.98 million deficit for the2011-12 fiscal year that forced it to use a substantial portion of its financial reserves, department officials acknowledged Monday.
Although the athletic department made $106.5 million in revenues, it had $110.5 million in expenses. Those expenses included hefty buyouts to former athletic director Mike Hamilton, football coach Phillip Fulmer, men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and baseball coach Todd Raleigh. When Hamilton resigned in June 2011, he received a $1.3 million buyout over three years. Fulmer received a buyout of $6 million over four years after getting fired in 2008.
Tennessee also has more than $200 million in outstanding debt related to the construction and renovation of various athletic facilities on campus.
The deficit, first reported Monday by The Sports Animal radio station in Knoxville, caused the athletic department’s reserves to dip to slightly below $2 million.

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TBI, AG Investigating 10th Judicial District Allegations

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and state attorney general’s office are investigating issues raised in a Chattanooga Times Free Press series on the 10th Judicial District.
The Times Free Press reports (http://bit.ly/PMAqrC ) that moments before the announcement, District Attorney General Steve Bebb faxed a statement to the paper. It said he had asked for appointment of a pro tem district attorney to “investigate any allegations of impropriety in this office, either by myself or any employee.”
In a series of articles this month, the paper accused Bebb of mismanaging the district. The paper’s seven-month investigation found that important cases were botched through ineptness or misconduct, that taxpayer money was misused and that the office played favorites during criminal prosecutions.
The district includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.