GOP Provides Donor List for Haslam-Harwell Not-a-PAC

The Tennessee Republican Party provided on Monday a list of 109 donations to The Governor’s Leadership Fund that were solicited by Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell, then used toward providing financial support to Republican legislative candidates.
The list of about $272,000 in donations — in amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000 — includes several lobbyists and special interest political action committees.
The top donations of $10,000 came from Federal Express’ PAC and David Johnson, part of a Nashville architecture firm.
The governor’s father and brother donated $5,000 each, according to the list provided by Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party.
The News-Sentinel reported Monday the existence of the fund, which is legal by all accounts but questioned by some as avoiding normal disclosure requirements and described as a “secret political slush fund” by a Democratic Party spokesman.
A list of candidates receiving a total of $91,800 from the fund was provided earlier, but Nickas said last week the list of contributors to the fund could not be provided. He sent the list Monday.
While Haslam and Harwell solicited donations to the “Governor’s Leadership Fund” and the money is kept in a separate bank account, it is legally treated as an arm of the Tennessee Legislative Campaign Committee, the state Republican Party’s main PAC for funding GOP candidates for the General Assembly.
Nickas said that, while Harwell and Haslam can suggest where the money should be spent, the party controls the spending — a distinction that means The Governor’s Leadership Fund does not have to register as a separate PAC and file lists of donors and contributions on its own. The list of donors and contributions are instead lumped together with all other reports on receipts and expenditures by the TLCC.
The list of about $270,000 in donations to the fund versus about $92,000 in contributions to candidates indicates the fund had substantial money still on hand at last report, dated Oct. 27. That surplus could have been sent to candidates after Oct. 27 or otherwise spent by the TLCC, which does not have to file another disclosure until the end of the year.

Note: The list of donors may be viewed HERE.

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