Democrats Nominate Three for Registry Vacancy

The state Democratic Party has nominated three people to fill a vacancy on the Registry of Election Finance board and Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to pick one of them to serve by the end of September, officials said Thursday.
The new member could bring the board up to its allotted six members by the panel’s next meeting on Oct. 23, when hearings are scheduled on whether civil penalties should be levied against Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and businessman Andrew Miller in separate pending cases.
Under the relevant state law designed to assure the board is bipartisan, the governor appoints two members – one from a list of nominees submitted by state Republican Party Executive Committee and the other from a list submitted by the state Democratic Party Executive Committee. The other seats are filled by appointments made by legislative caucuses – two for Democrats and two for Republicans.
The Democratic Executive Committee seat has been vacant since April of 2011. Brandon Puttbrese, the the party’s communications director, said no one at the party knew of the vacancy until a reporter asked about it last month.
Chairman Chip Forrester then consulted with executive committee members, inviting all to submit names of potential nominees, compiled a list of about 15 persons and then met with committee officers to come up with the three nominees and got concurrence on them in a telephone conference call, Puttbrese said. The procedure avoided a wait until the next full meeting of the executive committee, Sept. 29.
“We were pretty concerned about having someone there for these important things that are coming up,” said Puttbrese.
The nominees are Sarah Lodge Tally, a Nashville attorney; Norma Lester, a member of the Shelby County Election Commission; and Stacey Garrett, also a Nashville attorney.
David Smith, spokesman for Haslam, said the governor’s office has received the list and the governor expects to make a choice “by the end of the month.”
After appointment, a new member is required to go through a training session at the state attorney general’s office on campaign finance law and Registry procedures, said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said such sessions typically take two to four hours, depending on what the new member already knows about the subject.

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